Timely Email Newsletter Minimizes Unnecessary Use of Insecticide

Brian Lang, Field Specialist/Crops, Northeast Iowa

Problem 

For the last few years, control of soybean aphid in northeast Iowa has become a major concern among farmers.  However, being that this pest is still new to the region, minimal research is available to provide solid guidelines for its management.  Current response of farmers to control this pest is often a “knee-jerk” reaction to what the neighbor is doing.

Response 

Iowa State University (ISU) Extension Crops Specialist in northeast Iowa provides an email newsletter to farmers, agricultural suppliers and media.  The Crop Specialist has also conducted soybean aphid trials in the region for the last 5 years.  As these trials are monitored, populations and development patterns of soybean aphid are relayed to farmers, media, etc. within 36 hours of collecting the data.  In addition, the Field Specialist travels across the region monitoring potential problems.  This information is also shared in the newsletter.

Impact

As soybean aphid populations began to increase in 2005, the newsletter clients were well informed of the pest’s activity.  This year’s pest activity was particularly difficult to follow because of the spotty nature of it over the region.  This was clearly explained in the newsletter along with the appropriate Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices to follow. 

However, as it often happens, when pesticide applicators start operating in farmers’ fields, many producers that farm the neighboring fields just assume their fields should be treated too.   Educational institutions should not underestimate this kind of peer pressure.

The Crop Specialist received nearly 300 phone calls during the month that the majority of this pesticide application activity occurred.  Because the clients received the newsletter they called.  Reading the newsletter made them think twice and re-evaluate their fields rather than just spray because the neighbor sprayed.  They called for reassurance, and/or to clarify interpretation of the potential pest problem.  About 15% of these clients proceeded to treat their fields because the pest pressure appeared threatening.  Another 10% still buckled to the peer pressure even though they admitted that the field was probably okay without an application.  The other 75% called to thank the Crop Specialist for the newsletter information, which helped them with an important financial decision.

 

August 24, 2005   
142 --  Integrated Pest and Crop Management

Page last updated: July 9, 2006
Page maintained by Linda Schultz, lschultz@iastate.edu