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Four people standing in crop fieldThe goal of my Extension program is to increase producer profitability in Iowa through economically viable and sustainable disease management practices. Therefore, I develop and deliver relevant, unbiased research-based Extension programs that respond to the short- and long-term needs of my clientele, facilitate positive changes in disease management tactics, and improve the economic and environmental status of Iowa agriculture.

The objectives of my Extension program are to:

  1. Increase awareness of the effect of disease on yield and grain quality of corn and soybean. Iowa grows almost 24 million acres of corn and soybean annually. Diseases take a huge toll: yield losses are $0.8 to $2 billion annually.
  2. Enhance understanding of factors that affect disease development on corn and soybean in Iowa. Disease is the result of an interaction between the crop, pathogen and environment. Each interaction is unique for a disease. Understanding the factors involved in the interaction is key to disease management.
  3. Improve disease diagnosis skills. It is important that a disease be diagnosed accurately, so that the correct management decisions can be implemented.
  4. Encourage the use of effective and sustainable disease management practices. Some disease management practices directly impact the environment. For example, tillage can be used to bury infested crop residue; however, this practice has negative consequences for soil health. Overuse of fungicides can spur resistance development by pathogens and consequently threaten growers’ ability to fight off crop diseases.

I regularly contribute to the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Programs. At the winter schools, I concentrate on diseases that are economically important to the state. We discuss recommended management practices and how each practice interrupts the relevant disease cycle. Summer clinics include hands-on diagnosis of corn and soybean diseases, discussions on prevalent pathosystems in Iowa and their management.

I regularly contribute articles to ICMNews and discuss crop disease issues on the CropWatch Blog. You can also follow me on Twitter @alisonrISU.