(04/09/20) BATON ROUGE, La. — In recent weeks, LSU AgCenter personnel have found themselves in the same boat as many others around the world: working remotely to try to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
But that doesn’t mean farmers, ranchers, consultants and others can’t still reach AgCenter experts to ask questions or receive important information. Besides emails and phone calls, crop and livestock specialists and agents are communicating with the public through text messages using an app called Remind.
Several specialists and agents have used the system for the past few years to alert producers of pest problems and provide other timely information. There has been an uptick in subscriptions recently, said Tara Smith, director of the AgCenter Central Region.
“Remind text message systems have proven to be a useful tool for communicating timely crop and livestock updates and other relevant information to our clientele across the state,” Smith said. “All of our state specialists and agents are working remotely through the COVID-19 pandemic, and this application will continue to provide a great opportunity to network and remain engaged with our agricultural clientele across the state.”
Smith, who also is the coordinator of the AgCenter Sweet Potato Research Station, uses the Remind app to send updates about sweet potatoes. AgCenter entomologist Sebe Brown uses it to distribute information to row crop producers. For AgCenter rice specialist Dustin Harrell, the app is often the quickest way to contact his clientele.
“It is used to let everyone know when a specific issue is happening on one farm that others may need to be aware of. For example, this year we have already had warnings about rice stands being attacked by nontraditional rice pests like the channeled apple snail and cutworms,” Harrell said.
“We also announce new publications that are available and upcoming meeting information,” Harrell added. “Sometimes we have done surveys to determine information needed by the industry, and we also use it to poll yield information during harvest season so that we can make a harvest report.”
Ashley Edwards, an AgCenter livestock agent in central Louisiana, recently began using Remind to contact beef cattle producers. One of her first messages included information from Brown about controlling armyworms in pastures and hayfields.
“The plan is to utilize it for content such as information on critical issues as they arise, advertising statewide programs, notifications of new publications and newsletters, and updates on any disease or pest outbreaks as they begin,” Edwards said.
People can join the following AgCenter “groups” on Remind to get messages on specific topics:
To receive the messages on a smartphone, open the web browser and type in rmd.at/ plus the desired group name — rmd.at/labeef, for example. Instructions for downloading the Remind app will then appear.
Those without a smartphone can send a text message with the group name to 81010 to sign up for updates.
“These text message systems represent just another means by which LSU AgCenter faculty and agents are disseminating important research and extension programming information on critical issues in a timely manner,” said AgCenter Associate Vice President Michael Salassi. “I would encourage all of our agricultural clientele in the state to take advantage of these useful resources.”
Louisiana farmers, ranchers and agricultural consultants can keep in touch with LSU AgCenter specialists and agents through text messages via the Remind app. LSU AgCenter file photo by John Wozniak