Media contact: Dr. Frank Louws, assistant professor of plant pathology and North Carolina Cooperative Extension Specialist, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, North Carolina State University, 919-515-6689 or firstname.lastname@example.org
NC State University plant pathologist to develop Web site for fungicide recommendations
When farmers want to know how to manage a specific pest, they often reach for extension manuals that contain dozens of crops and hundreds of recommendations.
The pesticide information in the manuals is updated annually with new recommendations, regulation changes and ways to supplement pesticide use with other pest management strategies. But updates made after the manual is printed and distributed typically consist of crossing out the incorrect information and penning in the new directions.
Because updating the manual is such a tedious process, farmers sometimes make decisions about pesticides based on old or inaccurate information.
A new Web-based database project proposed by Dr. Frank Louws, a plant pathologist and North Carolina Cooperative Extension specialist in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at North Carolina State University, would allow farmers across the Southeast to type the name of a disease into an online form and instantaneously get a list of fungicide recommendations and more importantly, links to region-specific integrated pest management practices.
According to Louws, it's an idea whose time has come. Louws and colleagues are using a $49,164 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service to create a database that will be the primary source for updates to fungicide recommendations and regulations. The grant was made available through the Southern Regional Integrated Pest Management Grants competition.
The database will be designed initially to publish the annual “Southeastern U.S. Vegetable Crop Guidelines.” Over 6,500 copies of this publication, compiled by over 50 specialists across the Southeast, are printed and distributed annually, and the publication has quickly become a standard resource for growers and their advisors. Many farmers prefer a hardcopy, and the demand for this publication is a direct indicator of stakeholder relevancy.
However, as users adapt to digital technologies, extension agents, agricultural chemical dealers and farmers would be able to access those recommendations directly from the database, using a computer, cell phone or a PDA. A user who wanted information on disease control methods would type the name of the disease into the database and get a page of fungicide recommendations as well as integrated pest management options.
Since the database would be the primary source for updates to labels and regulations, specialists assigned to edit the recommendations could enter them into one source, rather than collecting label updates from various private Web pages and forwarding them to the manual editor. And no one would have to decipher handwriting or cross out phrases with a red pen.
Louws says the project will initially focus on plant disease management recommendations for the Southeast, but the vision is to develop the infrastructure that would be equally adaptable for weed, insect and horticultural recommendations. The project has already generated substantial interest at the national level, and the team will continue to link with partners and stakeholders to position the initiative for wide-ranging usefulness. The final database will be housed on a server at the National Science Foundation Center for IPM.
The Regional Integrated Pest Management Grants competition for the southern region is managed by the Southern Region Integrated Pest Management Center, which is located in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at NC State University. For a copy of Louws' grant proposal, or for other funded proposals, see http://www.sripmc.org/projects/ListRIPM.cfm .
- Rosemary Hallberg, 919-513-8182 or email@example.com -
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