The groundwork needs to be put in place for validation of future plant disease forecasts using actual observations from throughout the country. Regular field scouting for plant pests is an important crop management practice that should be done by most commercial growers. If just a fraction of this information was captured and statistically analyzed, it could provide an unprecedented real time view of plant disease populations throughout the country and eventually the world. DemiAg Tag is a software app under development that utilizes the geotagging capabilities of smartphones and tablet computers.
The first phase of this project will involve the software development, testing, and release of a iPhone and iPad app, DemiAg Tag, that will be made available for free on the Apple iTunes store. A Google Android and other smartphone versions of the software will likely follow in the future. The app will allow users to mark a geographical location for the occurrence of a plant disease that they select from a menu or that the user has saved as a favorite. The user will be able to optionally specify the stage, severity, and notes about the plant disease occurrence and submit a photograph. An extended area range could be specified instead of a just a single location and microclimate information could also be provided. The user will also be able to provide optional pesticide usage, organic farming, and Integrated Pest Management information for that location. If it is the first time the user has tagged that plant disease, then the app will prompt the user with a series of questions to increase the likelihood of an accurate plant disease diagnosis. Instructional videos, photographs, diagnostic keys, and other plant disease information will be made available through the app to assist the user. Extensive plant disease resources will also be available on the DemiAg and DeMilia Research Farm websites. The user will be required to login to their free DeMilia Research websites account. If it is a newly registered user, then the app will walk them through an account setup and collect profile information including optional details about their level of experience with growing crops and identifying plant disease. If it is the first time the user has used the app, then it will guide them through training exercises on its usage, as well as general field scouting and plant disease diagnosis techniques.
The second phase of this project will involve the rating of collected data for its reliability based upon each user’s experience profile and the data provided by other users near that geolocation. User submitted photographs would provide for additional certification of plant disease diagnoses by manual review and eventually automated with open source pattern recognition software. As data is collected, it will be incorporated into a continuously refined set of statistical analyses of collected data for the purpose of determining the accuracy and extent of plant disease outbreaks. The DemiAg expert system knowledge bases that would initially be built from collected data would eventually power the verification of user plant disease diagnoses in an infinite loop.
The third phase of this project would involve the establishment of a plant disease alert system that would be readily available online to farmers, home gardeners, and agricultural researchers by integrating it into DemiAg. These plant disease alerts based upon actual post-infection observations would later be supplemented with plant disease model pre-infection predictions.
Throughout these various phases, the data collected and techniques developed will be incorporated into the DemiAg expert system knowledge bases under development. Furthermore, they will be posted in live on the DemiAg and DeMilia Research Farm websites as they are developed and collected. Commercial growers who wish for the data collected on their farms to be incorporated into plant disease alerts, but not disseminated will be given that option. Protocols will be developed to prevent any adverse affects of collected data to commercial farm operations or those of their neighbors. The DemiAg Tag app will instruct users to provide plant disease severity information based upon untreated buffer areas whenever possible. Hence, users of the plant disease alerts will be pre-informed that severity levels are not indicative of crop damage to commercial fields using pesticides and other plant disease management strategies.
Coming soon. Design details.