New app helps farmers estimate bean population

posted July 6, 2016 10:08 a.m. (CDT)
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by / Jenessa Freidhof, Regional Editor |

  • jf_CT_BeanCam_070616
    Chippewa County UW-Extension Agent Jerry Clark, right, demonstrated the Bean Cam app to a group of agriculturalists at a field day in Chippewa Falls.

CHIPPEWA FALLS — In today's world, there is an app for just about everything, and it’s no different in farming. Whether it is determining how to manage pests, mapping yields or deciding whether fields need to be replanted, there is an app for that.

The Soybean Replacement Calculator, or Bean Cam, is a new app on the market that aims to help estimate soybean field populations. Bean Cam allows farmers to take five pictures of roughly 20 square feet each of different areas of a soybean field. The app then summarizes the plant population in the field. This gives the farmer another tool to help them determine if plant populations are sufficient or if replanting should be considered.

Jerry Clark and Tyler Maier of Chippewa County UW-Extension have been experimenting with the app over the past few months.

“It seems to be fairly accurate. I think this field was planted at a population of about 170 and the app is saying that it is at 163,” Clark said during a June 27 field day demonstration.

Maier, Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension summer intern, said, “We were experimenting with the app in our office, taking pictures of the plain, white, tile floor, and Bean Cam said that there were six plants there.”

A calibration feature available in the app allows the user to manually count how many plants are in an area and compare that number to the figure provided by the app and then change the calibration appropriately.

Bean Cam works by first entering the average growing stage of the field and then entering the row spacing of the field. After that information is inputted, grid lines appear on the screen. Holding the phone at shoulder height, the user lines up the grid lines with the rows and takes the picture.

This step is repeated four more times across the field before all the pictures are submitted. The app then creates an estimate of the soybean plant population. Bean Cam can be found in the app store on any smart device and is available for free.

As with any new technology, Clark said, be aware of where any app used comes from: “Technology can be a great tool on farms, but it is important to pay attention to the app’s source. Some farm apps are designed for specific regions and will not be as accurate in Wisconsin.”

Additional app recommendations, along with other pest management information, can be found on the Integrated Pest and Crop Management website,

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