Penn State Leads Development of a New Way to Promote IPM and Food Security through a $7M USDA AFRI iPiPE CAP Grant
The U.S. Dept of Agriculture-Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (USDA AFRI) Food Challenge Area awarded a $7 million Integrated Pest Information Platform for Extension and Education Cooperative Agricultural Project (iPiPE CAP) grant to Dept. of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology (PPEM) Professor Scott Isard. The purpose of the grant is to create a national infrastructure of private and public professionals who routinely monitor crop health and pest incidence then translate this knowledge to a shared platform enabling rapid dissemination of mitigation measures to limit crop loss. This effort represents an opportunity to alter the culture in U.S. agriculture in ways that promote integrated pest management (IPM) and food security through secure sharing of verified data. In the first year they established this pioneering effort of real-time data sharing of verified disease epidemics with the first seven crops, Alfalfa to Tree Fruit to Wheat. The scouting allows producers to follow the movement of epidemics regionally and thus apply prophylactic pesticides only when the risk in their region is high. The program will add additional commodities each year. Thus, the impact of the disease scouting could have an impact on a huge number crops and producers and will grow annually. The project uses a unique strategy of employing and educating undergraduate student interns in scouting and reporting. These student interns presented their research at a recent conference. Student knowledge is surveyed pre- and post-internship. The project in their first year published three manuscripts in refereed journals, presented three papers at professional conferences, published seven articles describing the iPiPE CAP in other outlets that target stakeholders, and created two websites online for the project. Other outputs from the iPiPE CAP include data and research materials (two types), databases (three), education materials and curriculum (one), evaluation instruments (six), models (multiple pests in four crops), software products (two types), and survey instruments (two).