Weather conditions kept soybean rust to a minimum in the United States in 2005. Next year producers may not be as lucky. But USDA is once again adding extra tools to your toolbox to keep you abreast of the rust situation across the country, in your state and even at the county level.
USDA announced Thursday that the department will again track the spread of soybean rust. In addition in 2006, USDA will create the Pest Information Platform for Extension and Education to provide producers with information about additional legume pests and disease. The nationally coordinated network will help producers in making crop management decisions that reduce pesticide input costs, reduce environmental exposure to pesticides and increase the efficiency and efficacy of pesticide applications.
The risk management tool component of the network is an online, real-time data system that allows growers and their advisors to access the latest information, to the county level, of where there are confirmed disease and/or pest outbreaks. The mapping tool will include frequently updated commentaries from state extension specialists and national specialists discussing immediate and projected risks and control options. USDA's Risk Management Agency funded this $2.4 million component.
Training modules will also be produced for crop advisors and producers about how to use the map system and what the risk management alternatives are, based on a three-tiered (low, medium, high) risk advisory.
The risk management mapping tool will continue to help improve crop protection by educating farmers about risk-management strategies and providing timely information about good farming practices specific to current crop pest and disease risk status. Farmers will have the information needed so they spray only when the risk is imminent, and reduce the overall number of sprays or other pest control interventions. This tool will increase farmers' awareness of more precise management practices and will provide documentation for potential crop insurance claims. Information will be provided to assist certified organic farmers in making decisions about planting schedules and geographic risk for disease and pest outbreak.
The soybean rust risk management tool is available online at www.sbrusa.net.