AgWatch


La. Farmers Stay Informed Through AgCenter Text Messages

BATON ROUGE, LA.
   Louisiana farmers can take advantage of the age of instant information by subscribing to any of several LSU AgCenter crop-specific text message groups.
   The program serves growers, crop consultants, landowners, AgCenter agents and researchers, and others interested in agriculture. Messages include information on upcoming meetings, updates about product registrations, notifications of new publications and newsletters, and updates or warnings of disease and pest outbreaks.
   AgCenter rice specialist Dustin Harrell launched the program last spring.
   “It’s really turned into a successful program,” Harrell said. “Although newsletters are great, they’re not real time. Little text messages are quick and informative.”
   The idea came about from conversations with a rice advisory group.
   “It’s worked out real well,” Harrell said. His group now has more 230 participants.
   “We’ve asked producers to report yields, and then we send the information to the group anonymously,” he said.
   Harrell’s success led to the development of additional groups – corn, grain sorghum, soybeans and wheat as well as a group for crop consultants.
   “I’m using it as an active way to reach producers and give them information on current insect and disease problems,” said AgCenter soybean specialist Ron Levy. “For example, when we found rust on soybeans, we let the group know, just to keep them informed.”
   Levy started his group in the spring and expects participation to grow when producers sign up at winter production meetings next year.
   “Now, they learn about it through word of mouth and our newsletter,” Levy said. “Those on the system say they really like it. The information comes straight to them.”
   The text groups are managed through a program called Remind, which was developed for school teachers to send text messages to students and parents and does not allow texts to be sent back to the group. Phone numbers are confidential.
   A Remind app, which is available for Android or iPhone systems, allows recipients to receive the texts in an app in addition to regular text messages.
   Messages also can be sent by email as well as texts.
   Individuals can sign up for the program by sending a text to 81010 with the name of one of the groups in the body of the message – @larice, @lasoybean, @lacorn, @lacotton, @lasorghum, @lawheat or @lacropcon. The process can be repeated for each group an individual wants to subscribe to. People who would rather get information by email can send an email to larice@mail.remind.com – or any other group name. ∆
MidAmerica Farm Publications, Inc
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