N.C. State University Crop Science Professor Jim Dunphy and Steve Koenning, a plant pathologist and research associate professor, have played important roles in recent years in award-winning efforts aimed at protecting soybean growers from Asian soybean rust. The pair are well known for these efforts, including their tracking of the disease spores across South and Central America up into North America, as well as their publishing of alerts about the disease's movements. Through Dunphy's and Koennings advisories growers have been alerted to the progress of soybean rust each season, and have been able to make decisions about if, and when, they should spray their crops with fungicides.
Soybean rust emerged as a threat to the U.S. soybean crop beginning in 2004. In response Dunphy and Koenning helped organize the Southern Region Integrated Management Center's Soybean Rust PIPE (Pest Information Platform for Extension and Education), located at N.C. State University. They also worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture in that department's NCERA-208 effort to curb the threat. That initiative is known as the Response to Emerging Soybean Rust Threat.
Soybean rust has been known to cause losses of up to 80% in South America. Fortunately, perhaps in part because of Dunphy's, Koenning's and others' research and reporting efforts, the disease so far has not caused that kind of loss in the U.S.
NCERA stands for North Central Extension Research Activity. In November, NCERA-208 was recognized with the 2012 Experiment Station Section Award of Excellence in Multistate Research. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities present the award to recognize successful, well-coordinated, high-impact research and extension efforts. NCERA-208 involved scientists representing more than 30 land-grant universities, federal agencies and industry associations.
Also in 2012, the Soybean Rust PIPE was winner of an International Award of Excellence, given during the Seventh International IPM Symposium in Memphis.
Koenning estimates the two advisory efforts NCERA-208 and the Soybean Rust PIPE save N.C. farmers about $15 million annually.
Both Dunphy and Koenning work out of NCSU's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.