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By John Reitman

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Turf app seeks to harness power of the end user

67e37939cf5fc8080564b388fcfa7185-.pngYou won't find an Angry Birds app on John Kaminski's iPhone, but that doesn't mean he's not a believer in the power of mobile technology and information sharing. In fact, Kaminski believes that mobile technology could help anyone who with an interest in growing turf with an outlet for identifying turf pests, developing preventive and curative control plans.
Kaminski, who oversees Penn State's two-year turf management program, has been working for the past two-plus years with mobile app creator Mobile Roadie to develop the Turfpath app.
In its first iteration, Turfpath offers users a library of photographic images of common turfgrass diseases as well as weed and insect pests as well as information on each a variety of chemical control options for each pest issue. The app also includes geographic-specific information on outbreaks.
While reference material constitutes the bulk of the information available on Turfpath, its real potential will come in the place of social interaction in future iterations, said Kaminski.
Currently, users can post photographs of weeds or insect pests and interact with others on the site to help identify them or find a cure. Future upgrades will pin those photos to a map via the GPS tracker located in smart phones, Kaminski said. That will allow users to seek geographic-specific information on pest problems. Eventually, said Kaminski, that same capability also will allow him to proactively push geographic updates and warnings about disease and pest outbreaks to users as well.
"The reference material is the meat and potatoes," Kaminski said. "The real power is going to be in sharing information and uploading images.
"I can see where it's going to go when we take it to the next step. That's in iterations 3, 4, 5 and 6. Right now, we're just in iteration 1. What we've done so far has just scratched the surface."
Turfpath is a concept that has been almost three years in the making, said Kaminski, who also has developed the Turfdiseases Web site and blog that includes updates from pathologists located throughout the country. Where Turfpath and the Turfdiseases platforms differ is in the source of the information provided to end users. 

"The biggest thing is going to be the mapping system and tracking geographic-specific pest problems..." -- John Kaminski

"The biggest thing is going to be the mapping system and tracking geographic-specific pest problems," he said. "That will allow us to crowd source and harness the power of the end user.
"We will be able to give them what they want and where they want it."
Developed privately by Kaminski, the app (which is not associated with Penn State) is available for the iPhone and Android markets. A version for iPad is due out later this year. It is intended for professional turfgrass managers, such as golf course superintendents, sports field managers, landscape professionals as well as homeowners.
"So many people have answers to these problems," Kaminski said. "You don't have to be a university professor to know these answers. Our power is in crowd sourcing our end users."

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