USDA agronomist creates software to monitor plant growth

New PhenologyMMS software helps farmers with crop maintenance.
New PhenologyMMS software helps farmers with crop maintenance.
According to the USDA, after receiving many questions from agricultural workers regarding the correct time to water and apply fertilizers and pesticides to their crop rows, Greg McMaster decided to write a computer program.

The resulting Phenology Modular Modeling System, or PhenologyMMS, helps decode the scientific terminology on pesticide labels by supplying common names for growth stages and gives instructions on how to identify various stages of plant development. By inputting the date of planting, planting soil condition and weather information from a nearby weather station, farmers can learn when their crops should be ready for care, a USDA press release stated.

Next, the technology extrapolates for the coming growing season, providing ranchers with an idea of when their "corn, wheat, barley, sorghum, dry beans, sunflowers, and several millet varieties" will reach different stages of growth. The ability to work with a variety of crops is a feature unique to Phenology, said McMaster, noting also that the list of compatible crops "is continually being expanded."

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