AMES, Iowa -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture has awarded the regional North Central Integrated Pest Management Center to Michigan State University, with co-direction support coming from Iowa State University. For the last 18 years, the North Central IPM Center was held at the University of Illinois, where Michigan State University provided co-direction.
The North Central IPM Center, one of four centers in the nation, serves 12 states as part of the USDA’s connection to production agriculture, research and extension programs and agricultural stakeholders throughout the United States. The IPM Centers’ projects strive to improve economic benefits of adopting IPM practices and to reduce potential risks to human health and the environment. The states in the region include: Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Ohio, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan.
Serving as the director of the center will be Lynnae Jess, of Michigan State University. As director, Jess will provide leadership and expertise as the North Central IPM Center implements its signature programs and competitive grant programs. Jess will serve as the liaison to the center-funded working groups and provide regional and national leadership on IPM-related issues.
Serving as co-directors of the center will be Laura Iles and Daren Mueller of Iowa State University. Iles has directed and served as the insect diagnostician in the ISU Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic since 2009. In addition, Iles provides Iowans training and diagnostic services in the broad areas of consumer horticulture pests, biological control and invasive insects. Mueller is an associate professor and extension plant pathologist at Iowa State University. He is also the coordinator of the Iowa State University Integrated Pest Management program. His main research interests involve understanding the biology and management of soybean diseases. Ethan Stoetzer, IPM communications specialist, will also provide support for the center.
As co-director of the NCIPM Center, Iles will assist Jess with administering the competitive grant programs. Iles will also assist in new research committee development and coordinate regional crop profiles and pest management strategic plans. Jess, Iles and Mueller will participate on regional and national IPM committees. Iles will also continue to direct the ISU Plant & Insect Diagnostic Clinic and Mueller will continue to coordinate the ISU IPM Program.
“Faculty and staff at Iowa State University have a long and productive history in conducting IPM research and extension programming,” Iles said. “And I am honored and excited to continue the IPM tradition by collaborating with colleagues at Michigan State University to administer the North Central IPM Center. The NCIPM Center has been, and will continue to be a leader in supporting IPM activities in our region and I look forward to continuing this important and impactful work.”
IPM is an initiative that aims to identify, research and implement a multitude of strategies that combat and manage various types of pests that can be harmful to all aspects of life, from food production to homeownership. While many pests can be combated with the use of pesticides as a management strategy, IPM seeks to evaluate pest management from a broader perspective that considers pesticide consequences, economic and environmental repercussions, and pesticide resistance. Through practicing IPM techniques and strategies, such as learning insecticide thresholds, learning fungicide applicability techniques and even introducing beneficial organisms to an environment, producers and even homeowners are able to care for their livelihoods, while avoiding unnecessary economic and environmental costs.
The North Central IPM Center has three goals as part of the larger IPM network, including: improving economic benefits of adopting IPM practices, reducing potential risks to human health and reducing potential risks to the environment. Through encouraging adoption of IPM practices, the center hopes to change the behaviors of producers in the region, while respecting economic constraints and pressures.
Through working groups, the center is able to disseminate $200,000 for Working Group grants to regional institutions for projects that will further the goals of the center, at a maximum of $20,000 per project. Progress reports from the center show that working group members collaborated on funded grants amounting to more than $7.2 million in 2017. For every dollar the North Central IPM Center invested in working groups, a $32 return was received through grants alone. Because not all working groups request full funding at $20,000 annually, the North Central IPM Center is currently able to fund 18 working groups with 692 members. The working group members represent 197 different affiliations, 42 states, Australia and five provinces in Canada.
Photos: Laura Jesse and Daren Mueller, co-directors