A Growing E-mail Network Increases Awareness of Crop Problems

April- June 2002

Brian J. Lang , ISU Extension Field Specialist/Crops

Typically, when a crop production problem is first noticed in a farmer's field, it is unknown whether the problem is localized, widespread or one of a kind. In addition there are questions on how this information should be shared with farmers and agricultural providers to make them aware of the situation. Normal media channels either take too long --newspapers, newsletters, ag magazines-- or don't allow for sufficient explanation of the problem (radio).

Anytime I find an interesting problem or situation developing in crop production, whether it be insect, disease, weed, weather, or other, I share this information on e-mail. Currently, I network with about 300 farmers, agricultural providers, crop consultants and media. When a potential problem arises, I can define the problem with as much detail as necessary, include photos if necessary, and e-mail the information to those on the network. In turn, when others on the network encounter a situation in their work, they can also notify the network.

Here is just one of many situations where the e-mail network has been invaluable. In 2001, Black Cutworm, an infrequent and spotty insect pest in corn, appeared at significant levels in a field near Postville. Due to the spotty nature of the pest, I sent out an e-mail to encourage other farmers with fields near Postville to quickly scout their fields. Five other fields were also found to have the pest and were quickly treated. I received a call a week later from another farmer who lives near Postville, but who was not on the e-mail network. He also had a severe cutworm problem. Unfortunately it was now too late to treat, so he had to replant the field. He is now on the e-mail network.


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