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Field guide? There’s now an app for that...

Programformobile devices takes the place of printed version to help blueberry growers deal with pests and diseases. By Judie Steeves


he berry industry is moving into the next century, with a new app for growers’ smart phones or

other mobile devices that they can take into the field to help identify pests and diseases. Most growers today have access to

such devices, so a customized mobile application will meet their needs right where they need the information — in the field, explains Karina Sakalauskas, research coordinator for the B.C. Blueberry Council. It’s expected the new web-app will

be available by spring, at the BCBC website ( and growers will have an opportunity to try a prototype at the growers’ short course in Abbotsford during the Pacific Agriculture Show Jan. 26-28. It was designed instead of updating

the Field Guide to Identification of Pests, Diseases and other Disorders in Blueberry Fields, says Sakalauskas. It includes illustrations and photos of pests and disease impacts to help growers identify issues in the field. That guide was seriously out of date

and due for editing. In fact, it doesn’t even include the now-common Spotted Wing Drosophila. Today’s growers are more

comfortable with new technology such as computers and smart phones, so it was a natural fit to update the guide using that new technology. She explains that the aim is to

provide customized information of the biology of common pests and diseases, beneficial insects, weather-related disorders and symptoms of pesticide damage and nutritional disorders that are affecting berries. “The more of our

growers who are able to identify pests and diseases the more there will be who can tailor their management programs to proactively address each threat. “Rather than

spraying based on a schedule, or on poor understanding of the pests and diseases that are present in the field, growers will be able to target pests and diseases precisely,” she explains. That should result


in better pest management, improved yields, fruit quality and profitability, at the same time as it will allow growers to reduce the amount of pesticides applied, for a net benefit to the environment, and lower costs to growers, she says. Information on the web-app will be

much easier to update as new pests threaten berries, or new controls are available, than a paper publication would be. Creation of the app is a

collaboration of the Investment

Karina Sakalauskas, research coordinator for the B.C. Blueberry Council.

Agriculture Foundation, which provided a $20,000 grant for development of the customized smart phone app; the BCBC and the Lower Mainland Horticulture Improvement Association. When growers spot something in

their field that looks wrong they will be able to take their smart phone out to where the issue is visible and compare the symptoms with photos on the app. They could also take photos of the issue on their plants

British Columbia Berry Grower • Winter 2016-17 9

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