A new software package developed by Agricultural Research Service scientists will help peanut farmers better manage their irrigation, pest control and other aspects of their farm operations.

Scientists at the ARS National Peanut Research Laboratory in Dawson, Ga., have developed a host of computer programs under the general name of FarmSuite. For example, one component, called Irrigator Pro, is a computerized expert system designed to aid in making peanut irrigation and pest control decisions.

According to ARS food technologist Marshall Lamb, FarmSuite also includes HarvPro, Peanut Curing Manager, Capital Investment Program, Sprinkler Cost Program and, most recently, WholeFarm, which is fast becoming an integral part of peanut farm operations.

Irrigator Pro's goal was to improve economic returns for irrigated peanut production and reduce risk associated with foreign material, immaturity, off-flavor, chemical residues, negative environmental impact and aflatoxin. More than 20 years of scientific research data and other information are incorporated in the software to help peanut farmers make informed, appropriate irrigation decisions.

WholeFarm provides a reliable, accurate picture of everything happening on a farm and helps make financial decisions. A grower can "build" a farm into the computer and analyze different situations that can impact the entire operation. For instance, it's possible to evaluate which crops to plant for maximum profit and to estimate how changes in crop prices might influence farm income, cash flow and break-even yields.

Even equipment purchases can be figured into the programmed "farm."

FarmSuite was developed under a cooperative research and development agreement with the Peanut Foundation, which is responsible for distribution. The software costs $25 and can be shared with other farmers.

More information about this work appears in the October issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's primary scientific research agency.