Time to water your fields? Ask your phone

A screenshot of the UNL Crop Water app. It is designed to help farmers add the right amount of irrigation water at the right time.

So you want to post a harvest photo to your farm’s Tumblr page while you unload the combine? Well, being the tech-savvy farmer-type, you probably already have the app for that.

Want to know whether the ground is drying out and it’s time to open the spigot on your center-pivot irrigation system?  Now, there’s an app to help with that, too.

In a drought, farmers cannot afford to waste a drop of water. Experts at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln believe their Crop Water app, recently added to iTunes, makes water efficiency easier.

Here’s how it works: add your field, choose your soil type, and punch in the readings from your field’s water meters. The app tells you how much moisture is in the soil which helps determine how much water to add to stay on track.

“If you can apply just the amount of water you need and not any more, you’re conserving water,” said Mark Hendricks, a UNL web designer who helped create the app based on research done at the university.

“If you over-irrigate you’re wasting a lot of water,” and energy Hendricks added.

There have been a lot of these apps coming out. UNL scored well with another app to monitor aphid infestations in soybeans. Hendricks said smartphones have become an indispensable tool for many farmers.

“You would be surprised by the kind of devices these guys use. In a lot of places west of Lincoln and north of (Interstate 80), your phone might be your best network device,”  Hendricks said.