If scouting and counting hundreds or even thousands of tiny green bugs on soybean leaves is getting a little tedious, try a new method and a new app for speed scouting. University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) Extension has released Aphid Speed Scout through the iTunes store, just in time for your aphid scouting.

Aphid Speed Scout will make scouting for soybean aphids easier and faster, says Wayne Ohnesorg, UNL Extension educator in Madison County. The app was produced for UNL Extension by EdMedia's Mark Hendricks and others.

Ohnesorg says he got the idea for the app after he took his new Apple iPad into the field – all part of a statewide UNL Extension effort to better use technology to teach, deliver and manage information.

Ohnesorg says he thought an app would help crop scouts better and more quickly scout for soybean aphids. He took his idea back to the office and began to work with UNL Extension Entomologists Tom Hunt and Bob Wright to make Excel spreadsheets on which the app is based. The spreadsheets process data input by crop scouts.

"The concept really is simple," Ohnesorg says, and works like this:

  • Scouts go into a field, select a soybean plant at random and count the number of aphids on the plant.
  • If 40 aphids are counted, the scout stops counting and deems the plant infested. A "1" is entered in the app.
  • If the number is less than 40, a "0" is entered in the app. The scout does this 11 times.
  • When finished, Aphid Speed Scout tells scouts whether to advise producers to treat for soybean aphids, to come back in seven to 10 days for another test or to sample five more plants.

In addition, since the application is based on spreadsheets, people may download it to their smart phones, computers, etc., as well as iPads, Ohnesorg says.

Aphid Speed Scout is also available as an Excel spreadsheet and UNL Extension Circular.

Plans also are underway to make spreadsheets and applications for first- and second-generation European corn borer and western bean cutworm. Crop scouts and others may learn more about the application during regularly scheduled extension workshops.