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Web-Based Decision Support System for Peanut Pest Management in the Virginia-Carolina Region


The goal of this project is foster an approach to crop management by Carolina/Virginia peanut producers which minimizes the risks of developing arthropod, disease, and nematode pest problems. <P>Objectives include: 1) develop a regional decision support system (DSS) to assist growers in assessing potential risks and benefits of competing management strategies, as well as in identifying and managing pests; 2) evaluate DSS performance in large-plot research trials; 3) present the DSS in extension education and classroom settings, and 4) evaluate DSS performance in varied field situations with extension agents and growers. <P>The DSS will assist growers in selecting a tillage system, cultivar, planting pattern, planting date, and plant population which are appropriate for a given field to minimize or avoid pest problems. It will help with identification and management of pest problems which do arise. <P>This project should foster adoption of IPM practices in peanut production, while reducing pesticide use, potential human health risks, and adverse environmental effects. The DSS implemented in this project will promote sustainable and environmentally sound pest management. It will incorporate a diversity of workable tactics and approaches, including both host plant resistance and cultural control methods.

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Non-Technical Summary: U.S. peanut producers face daunting challenges in an increasingly global economy. The elimination of the quota system in 2002 has resulted in a 25% reduction in peanut prices. Many pesticides critical to peanut production are currently undergoing EPA review, with tighter restrictions on use or even elimination expected. To survive and succeed, peanut producers must increase efficiency of production, and find ways to minimize and cost-effectively manage pest problems. This project will create a Web-based decision support system to assist peanut producers in accurately assessing the potential risks and benefits of differing pest/crop management strategies. It will provide information to help them manage disease, arthropod, weed, and nematode pests more effectively. Research station and on-farm field trials, training sessions, classroom instruction, and commodity field days will be used to test this decision support system and to familiarize producers, extension agents, and consultants with its capabilities. <P> Approach: In this project, we will modify and expand a decision support system developed for use in North Carolina. This decision aid assists growers in evaluating the risks and benefits of different crop and pest management strategies. Seven diseases, two arthropods, and three nematode pests are currently included in this decision aid. In cooperation with project participants from other states, NCSU will modify the decision support system to meet the needs of growers in each state. Pest species will be added or excluded depending upon whether they are a problem in a given state. Management options will be adjusted and indices modified based on the experience of cooperators in each state. We will add information to assist with cultivar selection (recommended seeding rates, maturity, etc), pest identification, and pest management. The decision support system will be hosted on an in-house, dedicated server at NCSU running Microsoft Windows Server 2003. It will utilize the Microsoft.NET platform, coupled with SQL Server 2005. Two experiments will be conducted during each year in North Carolina and Virginia, either in growers' fields or on research stations. Each experiment will include three treatments, and these treatments will be replicated at least three times at each location. Treatments will consist of three levels of risk: low, moderate, and high, as determined using the decision support system. Researchers in each state will determine the practices representing these categories. Project PIs will conduct annual in-service training and education sessions for extension personnel and other interested users in each state. Project PIs will present the program via classroom demonstrations and guided practice in appropriate graduate and undergraduate classes at NCSU, Virginia Tech, and Clemson. Extension agents will be actively involved in selecting and determining potential risks using the DSS for the on-farm sites utilized under Objective 2. In addition, each cooperating extension agent will evaluate the DSS in one of two ways: 1) he/she will select one or two fields prior to the season to rate using the DSS and will then survey each field periodically to determine pest problems; or 2) he/she will identify one or two fields at the end of the season which appear to have had pest problems and interview the grower to determine field history/management practices for an after-the-fact risk assessment using the DSS.

Wilkerson, Gail
North Carolina State University
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