I provide disease management advice for horticultural commodities in Iowa - fruits, vegetables, shade and forest trees, herbaceous ornamentals, and turfgrasses. A major emphasis is evaluating biological and reduced-chemical Integrated Pest Management techniques to enhance the sustainability of Iowa fruit and vegetable farms. These projects involve research trials on ISU farms as well as demonstration trials on commercial fruit and vegetable farms. My research and extension efforts are closely linked.
I do practical training in disease management for growers, retailers, landscape-care professionals, and homeowners in several ways, including field days on commercial and university farms, extension bulletins, newsletter articles, workshops, and conferences.
Vegetable and ornamental crop production education for Amish and Mennonite growers in eastern Iowa
A grant from the North Central Region Risk Management Education Center funded a year-long (2005-2006) initiative to deliver extension information on production of vegetable crops and greenhouse ornamentals, greenhouse environmental management, pest and disease management, pesticide safety, and enterprise budgeting to Amish and Mennonite growers in eastern Iowa. The project focused on three groups of Amish and Mennonites – in northeastern, east central, and southeast Iowa – that had diversified into high-value crops in recent years. We held 4 field days and 9 workshops, featuring presentations and Q&A with ISU Extension state and area specialists. In addition, we distributed 175 Resource Notebooks containing all presentation materials, and purchased a “Resource Shelf” for 3 Amish/Mennonite produce auctions and 10 ISU Extension county offices in eastern Iowa. The Resource Shelf, including 11 standard reference works on vegetable, greenhouse, and fruit production, is intended to give Amish and Mennonite growers local access to practical production guides. Visit the project’s website.
Iowa growers, researchers, and educators gain ideas from Costa Rican counterparts
A grant from the USDA International Scientific Exchanges program is funding a 3-year (2005-2008) exchange project to expose Iowa growers, researchers, and educators to innovations in Costa Rican agriculture that can increase the international competitiveness of Iowa agriculture. The first group of 13 Iowa growers – including soybean and corn farmers, organic vegetable growers, Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) leaders, co-op organizers, county extension educators, and fruit and flower producers - toured Costa Rican farms, processing facilities, and research centers from February 19-28, 2006, hosted by faculty at the University of Costa Rica. A reciprocal tour of Iowa agriculture, including 22 agriculture students, researchers, extension educators, and farmers from Costa Rica, is scheduled for July 17-26, 2006. In addition, the grant has funded research internships, visits, and presentations at ISU by several Costa Rican scientists, including Mercedes Diaz, a visiting M.S. candidate fro University of Costa Rica.
This initiative grew out of a continuing 8-year-old program of reciprocal student-group tours – of Iowa agriculture by students from University of Costa Rica, and of Costa Rica by ISU students (see Pl P/Hort/Ent 511 course in Teaching). ISU groups have visited Costa Rica in March of odd-numbered years since 1999, and University of Costa Rica student groups have toured Iowa agriculture in July of even-numbered years. Key cooperators at University of Costa Rica are plant pathology professors Felipe Arauz and Amy Wang.
Gaining Experience in Extension
Students and others in my lab have the option of combining their research training with experience in written and oral communication to Extension audiences. In 2000, Brooke Edmunds, then an M.S. student, was first author on an ISU Extension bulletin, "Crown Rot of Hosta".
Dr. Stephen Wegulo, former Assistant Scientist in my lab, was first author of "Tree cankers: Nature’s scavengers," an article in the national trade journal American Nurseryman in 2000, and the ISU Extension bulletin "Fungal Cankers of Trees," SUL-11, in 2001.
Many of my graduate students make presentations to commercial and general extension audiences to broaden their experience in public speaking, and write general-audience newspaper articles on disease management. These experiences broaden students' resumes and enhance their employment prospects.
Award Winning Bulletin
An ISU Extension bulletin, "Using Mulches in Managed Landscapes," SUL-12, was co-authored by me and other Extension and research specialists at ISU, Ohio State University, and University of Kentucky. This 12-page bulletin received the "Outstanding Fact Sheet Award for 2001"from the American Society for Horticultural Science.
Web Page on Apple Disease & Insect Management
An Apple IPM Web site summarizes the results of several years' collaborative research and on-farm trials by my lab and Extension/research colleagues at University of Missouri, University of Wisconsin, and University of Illinois. The site also offers current recommendations for management of sooty blotch and flyspeck, apple scab, fire blight, and codling moth, which are among the major disease and insect problems of Midwest apple growers.