UNL Researchers Debut New Interactive Wheat Variety App
Wheat growers have a techy new way to get the latest variety testing results.
After two years of product development and testing, a team of researchers at University of Nebraska-Lincoln is unveiling its new Wheat Variety App — a web-based application that contains the same results Nebraska growers have come to expect from UNL’s Crop Variety and Hybrid Testing Program research, but in a new customized format. With a few clicks, growers can now filter test results to find their perfect wheat variety options with ease.
“The big thing we like about this app is the functionality,” said Amanda Easterly, UNL Agronomy and Horticulture research assistant professor and co-developer of the Wheat Variety App. “Whereas the reports we put out on CropWatch, they’re static pdfs — they’re useful, and we try to make them appealing to the eye, but they’re not interactive.”
The Wheat Variety App takes interactivity very seriously — there’s an automated map to easily view variety selections, with multiple options to filter and customize results on different levels.
Easterly noted that when a grower is considering the best wheat varieties to plant, yield isn’t the only factor — a limitation that the development team has addressed in the new app.
“If you want to see which has a better protein content, this app lets users do that,” Easterly said. “You can look at results on a regional or county level, or just find individual site reports.
“We also made it simpler to look at different time points. Let’s say I just decided 2020 was an awful year in my region. I want to look at 2017 to 2019, or longer period of time — maybe a five-year average. The Wheat Variety App does that.”
There’s an additional bonus for app users — once they’ve tailored the variety results to their unique specifications, they can download and print a customized pdf report.
Easterly added the pdf function would be especially helpful for those growers who aren’t as comfortable with navigating technology. Growers can now sit down with their local Extension educator and tabulate the variety testing data together, leaving with a custom report to use for their operation.
Building a simple but effective, user-friendly tool was the ultimate goal for the app development team — which includes Easterly, UNL Agronomy and Horticulture Associate Professor Cody Creech, UNL Food Science and Technology Professor Jennifer Clarke, programmer Alex Pages, and Panhandle Research and Extension Center research technologist Brian Maust. With support from UNL’s Agricultural Research Division, and after the team’s concerted efforts this past year to polish the app for its end users, Easterly said they are eager to see the results and get feedback.
To assist with rollout, the team will be introducing growers and other ag industry professionals to the app at upcoming extension events, where they will conduct live demos to help new users learn how to navigate the program.
“I’m very excited for folks to let me know what they like and what could be improved,” Easterly said, “and figuring out how we can expand into other crops, like grain sorghum.
“I’m most excited because this is another option for growers to use, and hopefully it provides them with the flexibility to make decisions for their own operations.”
The Wheat Variety App is free to use, requires no signup and can be found by clicking this link.