App improves pest control | AG

A new mobile app aims to help growers improve their disease and pest management practices while saving time, effort and resources. The app combines sequential sampling plans with action plans that recommend intervention if the damage caused by a disease costs more than the cost of control.

Called “Sampling,” the app was developed by Daniel Heck, a postdoctoral fellow at Cornell University-School of Integrative Plant Science. He developed the app after working in the field with growers. He had learned that many areas had to be assessed in a short time and that there were too few decision-support tools.

“We want to help growers decide when a management practice such as the application of fungicides and pesticides is necessary,” he said. “Sequential sampling plans for pests have been developed to save time in searching for diseases and insects. But merging the plans with action thresholds for integrated pest management practices created a more powerful tool for decision-making.

Growers using the app can only apply a fungicide if the disease has passed the action threshold. Additional benefits include reduced pesticide applications as well as crop production costs, pesticide loads and selection pressure from chemically resistant plant pathogens and insect pests, he said.

Most of the algorithms he developed for the app were based on scientific literature and studies by Jan Nyrop, director of Cornell-AgriTech, a researcher in the field of sequential sampling, Heck said.

The first version of the recently released app includes sequential sampling plans for Cercospora leaf spot disease. He developed the app to serve as a repository for sampling plans for several diseases and insect pests. The plan is to add sampling plans for Stemphylium leaf blight of onions and a few other diseases and insect pests later in the year. He has received requests from researchers to incorporate soybean white mold into the application.

The app allows users to select a disease or pest from a pre-populated list and specify the purpose of the sampling – estimation or classification. Later, the user can select the sampling precision or the action threshold.

Users can navigate the map and select a field to inspect. When sampling begins, users can choose a random sampling unit to begin screening. They can enter the number of sick individuals in each sample unit assessed.

The application will then inform the user when to stop sampling for the selected objectives and return the final incidence and the threshold reached. Growers can then decide if treatment is necessary. Visit cals.cornell.edu for more information.

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