IPM Program Combats Crop Pests, Diseases
Each year, a handful of trained scouts survey fields for the pests that could threaten North Dakota’s crops.
These scouts’ work is the heart of NDSU’s Integrated Pest Management (IPM) crop survey program, says Marcia McMullen, Extension plant pathologist and IPM coordinator.
The scouts collect information to give producers and others in the agricultural industry a weekly snapshot of the presence and prevalence of insects and diseases, and the economic damage they’ve caused. Once producers know a disease or pest is in their area, they can monitor their fields and take steps to control it.
In addition, producers use the information to assess their current crop’s yield and quality potential, as well as develop future control efforts, such as rotating crops, using cultivation and tillage practices, selecting resistant varieties to plant, and varying planting and harvesting dates.
The survey data has other long-term benefits, including:
- Providing information on shifts in pests’ presence and severity
- Indicating pesticides resistance
- Spotting relationships between pest populations and environmental factors
- Demonstrating the impact of cultural practices on the occurrence of pests
- Identifying areas for additional research
- Pinpointing the need for educational programs on improved pest and disease management methods
NDSU’s IPM survey began in 1988 with one field scout to identify diseases in wheat and barley in eastern North Dakota. Now it has five full-time scouts to cover 15 million acres of wheat, barley, soybeans, canola and sunflowers statewide. Faculty and staff from NDSU’s Plant Pathology and Entomology departments also are an integral part of the program.
Analysts use the data to create maps showing where diseases and insects were detected and the severity of the infestations, plus charts and tables to indicate trends and estimate yield losses.
NDSU scientists use the scouting information in conjunction with weather data from the North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network to help validate models that forecast the development and spread of diseases and insects.
Extension agents use the data to work with producers on making fungicide or insecticide application decisions. NDSU also disseminates the information through the IPM website at www.ag.ndsu.nodak.edu/aginfo/ndipm/; county Extension Ag Alert newsletters; the “Crop and Pest Report;” Plant Pathology and Entomology Department websites; and at grower meetings.