iPhone app helps farmers manage insects

Spotted wing drosophila (Photo by Lynn Ketchum)
The invasive spotted wing drosophila is a major new fruit pest. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum)

Growers can now easily identify and manage insects while in the field using smart phones and tablets with a new online tool developed by Oregon State University and partners.

Last year, if a grower found a glob of frothy, white foam smeared on a patch of young alfalfa hay, one option was to comb through 600-plus pages in a three-ring binder to identify the culprit as a meadow spittlebug.

Now, growers can check the revamped Pacific Northwest Insect Management Handbook website

The website is designed for easy viewing on all screen sizes – from desktop computers to mobile devices. It includes all content from the printed handbook. Plus, most webpages on the site include photos and links. Website users can also print factsheets on individual pests and share handbook content on social media.

Ed Peachey, weed specialist for the OSU Extension Service, said he has seen a shift among growers and field representatives to using smart phones as a primary communications tool in the last three years.

“Farmers will stand in their fields and use their smart phones to send photos to me, asking ‘What’s wrong with my crop?'” Peachey said. “They used to have to take photos with their camera, go home and download them. Now it’s much more instantaneous.”

Two related publications, the PNW Plant Disease Management Handbook and the PNW Weed Management Handbook also have companion websites. These websites will be updated to be mobile-friendly by next year. Each handbook is revised and updated at least annually. The websites are updated throughout the year with new photos, links and timely announcements.

Farmers, field representatives and consultants have used PNW Handbooks for years to identify and manage insects, plant diseases and weeds based on the latest research. The Extension Services of OSU, the University of Idaho and Washington State University develop and update the handbooks.

And those three-ring binders are still an option. All three 2013 Pacific Northwest Pest Management Handbooks are also available in print for $60 each. To order, visit the OSU Extension Catalog or call OSU Extension and Experiment Station Communications at 800-561-6719.

  • PNW Insect Management Handbook: The insect handbook explains the biology, life cycles and management options for insects and mites affecting hundreds of species of crops and livestock in the Pacific Northwest. It includes organic and conventional pesticide options and separate chemical recommendations for commercial and home use. The handbook also includes biological and cultural management options.
  • PNW Plant Disease Management Handbook: The plant disease handbook is a reference for important plant diseases in the Pacific Northwest. General information on disease biology, as well as cultural, biological and chemical control methods are summarized for each plant disease.
  • PNW Weed Management Handbook: The weed handbook is a reference guide to weed management for crops throughout the Pacific Northwest. The guide helps growers, producers and field representatives navigate the maze of pesticide labels and relevant information, while also highlighting non-chemical methods to deal with weeds.

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