A NEW app called Frog Croaker released by the Namoi Catchment Management Authority (CMA) for smartphones showing different frogs and their call sounds in the regional catchment has been a smash hit.
Another app also developed by the Namoi CMA called Ground Cover is proving a useful tool for farmers.
The frog app’s popularity has also prompted other CMAs around the state to do something similar, which has made Namoi CMA catchment officer – education Col Easton and his colleagues very proud.
Mr Easton said the app had been more popular than they could ever have forecasted.
“It’s actually one of the top 50 educational apps in Australia – it’s absolutely incredible,” he said.
“Literally thousands” of people had already downloaded the app, Mr Easton said.
The app was first launched in June last year for iPhones then, in November, it was also made available to Android-style phones.
The brilliant thing about the app was that it pulled up pictures and call sounds of frogs only in the region of the town you were near when you activated the app, Mr Easton said.
There are 27 frog species across the Namoi CMA but, say, you activate the app near Tamworth, you’ll only see on screen and hear the calls of the 12 frog species found in that area.
You could take a photo of a frog and send it to the Namoi CMA, another great feature which helped the Namoi CMA precisely pinpoint where you take a photograph.
“What it does, it ‘geo-locates’ you, so if you want to send a message, e.g. you’ve found a frog ... you can send a picture and it gives the latitude and longitude,” Mr Easton said.
“That’s what’s really clever about it ... it’s very cool.
“That one was the first one that any of the CMAs have done in NSW – which is a bit of a coup.”
The Namoi CMA created app for farmers, Ground Cover, was also taking off, Mr Easton said.
It is really simple to use and is an excellent database tool for farmers, Mr Easton said.
When activated, you walk across a paddock and note the different types of ground cover in the paddock.
A list on the screen shows ground-cover options such as bare ground, plant green growing, plant dead/dormant.
The farmer taps on the items in the list a certain number of times (according to how many steps were taken) and it breaks the paddock make-up into percentages, for example, the percentage of bare ground.
“All you need to do is you take a step and, whatever your foot lands on, if you can match it up to one of those variables then you press the matching button. We suggest that you do about 25 steps: you just need to get a sample size,” Mr Easton said.
“The farmer, once he does this, gets an objective idea of the health of his or her paddock.
“The farmer can then send it to themselves and they can create a database ... so that’s a really powerful tool.”
The Ground Cover app was released by the Namoi CMA in August 2012.
Mr Easton said it had revolutionised and sped up how people monitoring the health of paddocks recorded information. No longer did they have to use a book and laboriously record data.
“If you’re doing a ground cover project for us, we like to have data sent to us,” he said.
“It’s about innovation and the organisation helping the community and helping them with their enterprises and using a tool.”
To download the apps, go to the Namoi CMA website: www.namoi.cma.nsw.gov.au.
Call Col Easton on 6764 5940 if you’re having trouble downloading it.