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Sharing Research-Based Crop Info One e-Pub, Tweet at a Time
Kansas Ag Connection - 08/20/2014

Ignacio Ciampitti is a long way from the Buenos Aires neighborhood of his childhood, but remembers his grandmother's influence on his early decision to work outdoors with plants and solve production problems. The Kansas State University agronomist spent summers working in the fields with her in a small town outside the city.

"Helping farmers to produce more food for our challenging world is my greatest passion," said Ciampitti, who is a crop production specialist with K-State Research and Extension.

That focus on working through production problems and reaching out to producers has resulted in two electronic publications (ePublications), both available free for downloading at

"Diagnosing Corn Production Problems in Kansas" (publication S54 for tablets and smartphones) is an electronic version of a publication written by several K-State specialists, previously available only in printed booklet form.

"Abnormal Corn Ears iBook" is interactive and includes a test that growers can use to help in identifying problems with their crop. Currently, it is only available on iPads, not on iPhones, but Ciampitti believes the technology will change enough to allow that soon.

Both ePublications are also available as pdf documents.

"Now producers don't have to take along a book or other paper guide as they are scouting fields and trying to determine what pest or disease may be affecting their crop," Ciampitti said, noting that many producers have their smart phones or tablets with them much of the time. "If I'm a producer and I find a problem in my corn field, I can search on my tablet for corn topics. I can search for pictures, I can search for names, right there in the field." He is planning to produce more ePublications for soybean, sorghum, and canola, and Spanish versions, as well.

The Kansas Corn Commission supported the development of both ePublications.

"The commissioners share my view that the information was needed in an electronic, easy to share, and searchable format," Ciampitti said.

"The advantage of this is that we can develop such publications as this ePub that are portable, easy to be obtained, shared, handled, more searchable than a traditional publication and can change it as new information comes in," Ciampitti said. "The extension audience is evolving and new generations demand more effective and up-to the-minute information available via iBook, ePub, Twitter, Facebook, and website related-sources."

The agronomist also uses Facebook (Ignacio Ciampitti/KSUCROPS) and Twitter (Ignacio A Ciampitti @KSUCROPS) to communicate crop information, but believes that because the audience on Facebook is limited to a selected group of people ("friends"), Twitter is more dynamic and interactive. Less than a year after he started tweeting, he has more than 1,000 followers.

"You can go to a meeting and speak to 10 people, and after the meeting you can also tweet the presentation and reach 500 people," he said, noting that while there is still a place for traditional communications, social media is another way to convey messages. "You can view everything from plant problems to announcements and it can be interactive."

He recently summarized his experiences on the use of Social Media and how this tool is revolutionizing the agricultural communication outlets in a very broad and high impact magazine from the American Society of Agronomy, Soil Science and Crop Science Society of America (ASA, SSSA, CSSA), CSA News. This paper can be found at the following link:

Ciampitti is careful about what he tweets, however, and tries to ensure that people learn something with every message he sends out. Generally he sends no more than two a day and those typically go out around noon and later in the evening.

"People often check Facebook and Twitter before they go to bed," he said.

Ciampitti, who recently gave a presentation on using social media at a precision agriculture conference, InfoAg 2014 in St. Louis (with more than 1400 registrants), summarized some of his favorite mobile apps for agriculture at

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