November 2016
Farm & Field

Extension Corner: Alabama Extension Expands Digital Library

Farmer, gardener or consumer, ACES has an online resource for you!

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System has a growing catalog of award-winning iBooks and apps designed for consumers and farmers. More than 10 iBooks and apps are currently available, and more are in development.

"We are one of very few states serving our citizens in new and innovative ways with robust digital products," said Emery Tschetter, Extension director of communications and marketing.

ACES Director Gary Lemme said the shift to digital products is a key to keeping Extension relevant to new and younger audiences.

"We have moved away from traditional publications to creative teams of scientists and communicators who build cutting-edge communications products," Lemme said.


More than 10 iBooks and apps are currently available from the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.


The "Gardening in the South" iBook series is based on ACES’s Master Gardener curriculum and proven university research. Available for free, the series has the information, tips and tricks a Southern gardener needs to succeed. Both beginning and veteran gardeners will find these now-available books useful.

 "Gardening in the South"

The books are user-friendly and filled with easy to understand information, color photos and video features. Additionally, readers can test what they have learned with the interactive quizzes to review key concepts.

Tschetter added that gardeners should also try SOW, Extension’s gardening app available for both iPhone and Android.

"The SOW app puts the most crucial information on food gardening right in gardeners’ hands when they need it," Tschetter explained.

 SOW features:

According to Jonathan Davis, Extension’s director of information technology, the app, designed specifically for mobile devices, is easy and intuitive.

"Simply choose your location and start planting," Davis said. "Click on a crop’s photo to see more information including days to harvest, spacing and other crop details.

The SOW app features several ways for the user to access additional information. A More Information button is featured with every vegetable and fruit in the app’s database. Clicking on that button takes the user to relevant publications and other information on the Extension website.

If that does not provide the answer a gardener needs, the "Ask an Expert Option" allows the user to send a question to a horticulture expert in his county or state.

One of SOW’s unique features is the "Today’s Crops" option. Currently only available for gardeners living in Alabama, the option tells the gardener what can be planted on any day of the year.


Consumers will also find Extension’s "Emergency Handbook" to be a valuable addition to their digital libraries. The "Emergency Handbook" is a comprehensive and free resource for emergency planning, preparation and storm recovery. It is available from iBooks.

"The ‘Emergency Handbook’ is filled with resources and information connecting every family, business and community in Alabama," Lemme explained. "Built on research-based knowledge from Auburn University and other land-grant institutions, it also draws on resources like the Extension Disaster Education Network and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Quite simply, it is the best of our information, intended for you to use during the worst of situations."

The "Emergency Handbook" was recognized by FEMA recently for its excellence. It received honorable mentions in FEMA’s Individual and Community Preparedness Awards in both the Technological Innovation and Awareness to Action categories.

Both "Gardening in the South: Pest Management" and the "Emergency Handbook" won awards from the Association for Communication Excellence for the quality of information and overall design provided.

Alabama Extension has created iBooks, online courses and apps for farmers and producers as well.

"Beef Basics" is both an online course and an iBook. An overview of beef cattle management concepts for new and beginning farmers, "Beef Basics" puts the keys to profitable beef production in producers’ pockets.

Fruit and vegetable growers will find the "High Tunnel Crop Production Handbook" useful, while the Alabama Crops app is a one-stop shop for timely information about Alabama crop production. Alabama Crops offers current crop production news, in-season alerts, and the ability to send a photo and note directly to Alabama Extension crops professionals.


Maggie Lawrence is the news unit manager for Alabama Cooperative Extension System.