UNL app strives to make monitoring a ‘snap’
“Pictures are really helpful in seeing how our management decisions have impacted our grasslands,” said University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) Extension Educator Bethany Johnston.
After recognizing both the importance of rangeland monitoring for producers and the time consuming nature of it, a team at UNL created an app call Grass-Snap.
“This app assists producers in grabbing repeatable photo-monitoring data and saving it on their smart device in an orderly fashion, so it can be downloaded to the home computer to study,” says the app.
“We did some photo monitoring before using a digital camera and downloading those pictures to our computer, and as a producer, I would not have done that,” comments Johnston. “It was very time consuming.”
A group of Extension educators and range specialists in Nebraska began brainstorming ideas for an app that would make monitoring simpler.
“We developed Grass-Snap, which is available for both Apple and Android,” she says.
According to Johnston, one of the primary benefits of the GrassSnap app is its time-saving quality.
“It saves us a lot of time. We don’t have to name the files. We can repeat, and if we’re out doing monitoring, it takes a lot less equipment if we’re able to get rid of some of that paperwork and replace it with an iPhone, iPad, Android tablet or Android phone,” she explains.
The GrassSnap app has many features to make rangeland monitoring more simple, says Johnston.
“Once we go through the process and get data entered, it will sort by pasture name or transect into albums,” she comments. “Then, when I click on a file, it’ll open up the pictures and data for that pasture.”
Data collected over multiple years is stored within the folders, and each picture is digitally stamped with the pasture name, date, GPS information and what direction the picture was taken in.
“Another thing we can do is tie in some data with those pictures. We have some grazing indexes in there for Nebraska and an apparent trend score for the Natural Resources Conservation Service Conservation Stewardship Program. Then there are also places to add comments,” continues Johnston.
The app also includes a map feature that marks the location where each picture is taken.
“When I look to find my pastures next year, I can enter these coordinates into the GPS unit, and it will take me back to those sites. I don’t have to worry about forgetting that sheet back at home,” she says.
The GrassSnap app can be downloaded for free from the Google Play or Apple store by searching for “GrassSnap.”
Johnston explained that more information about the GrassSnap app can be found at go.unl.edu/GrassSnap.
“I have user manuals on there and downloadable instructions that explain how I get the information from my smart device to my laptop or my computer. There are some other links on there, as well,” she said.
When designing Grass-Snap, the team worked hard to make the program as simple and user friendly as possible.
“I have to tell producers, when I went to develop GrassSnap, I didn’t really know what an app was or how to use it,” comments Johnston. “I tried to make this program as simple as possible for those people out there who aren’t maybe as good with a smart device.”
Emilee Gibb is editor of Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.