Apps for urban agriculture and market gardens

Technology can help the urban grower manage their market gardens

Technology has become increasingly important in agriculture production in recent years. With the advent of portable devices, technology can be taken to the field and used for a various production management functions with regard to weed and insect management, growing degree days, and soils characteristics. Mobile applications on smart phones and other devices are another tool to aid in a grower’s decision-making process. Michigan State University Extension wanted to highlight a few apps that urban growers might want to consider to assist in managing their market gardens.

Purdue University Extension has produced the app Who Let the Bugs Out. The app is in a flashcard-style format and helps gardeners determine what insects they are observing. The app has some limitations in that it is not particularly interactive, but will allow the grower to take a portable computerized identification guide to the field.

The University of Missouri Extension offers the ID Weeds app, which, as the name suggests, helps growers identify weeds. After identifying the weed, then appropriate management decisions can be made.

Soil characteristics are an important part in determining the productive capacity of the soils in a particular area. University of California at Davis and the Natural Resource Conservation Service have teamed up to produce the SoilWeb app. SoilWeb uses the GPS technology in your smart phone to find the soil data for the area in which you are located.

The Growing Degree Days app, published by Farm Progress, uses GPS technology and converts collected weather data to growing degree days. This information is important for the grower because it will help to forecast the time when certain insects and weeds will emerge and become a management issue in the market garden.

Michigan State University Extension educators and innovation counselors at the MSU Product Center Food-Ag-Bio are ready to assist food processors in the development of the products. The Product Center provides food safety testing and assistance to help Michigan entrepreneurs develop and commercialize high-value, consumer–responsive products and businesses in the value-added agriculture, food, and natural resources sectors.