The application of advanced Information Technologies (IT) to the soybean rust threat has enabled the deployment of a pest information system with a level of utility and credibility never previously achieved for an invasive agricultural pest in the U.S. As a result of this success, government administrators, researchers, industry representatives, and producers are employing the same template to launch a national Pest Information Platform for Education and Extension (PIPE). The PIPE concept was originally proposed by Scott Isard and Joe Russo at a meeting of USDA administrators in Bellefonte, PA. It has since been adopted as a new paradigm for IPM. The IPM PIPE is currently directed by a national steering committee and continues to expand. In 2006, PIPE began to focus on established pests of soybean and other legumes under the direction of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Regional Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Centers. A diverse array of pest information systems in the U.S. provide growers with valuable information for managing plant diseases, insect pests, and weeds at local, regional, and national scales. The vision for PIPE is to enhance the use of these decision support systems, facilitate development of additional IPM programs, help growers document their management actions for crop insurance claims, and provide a structure that will enable quick response to threats from exotic pests (Isard et al 2006).
PIPE integrates people and computers, distributed throughout the nation, who are networked and facilitated by “state-of-the-art” IT. It supports observation networks, diagnostic laboratories, data management, modeling, interpretation, and the dissemination of timely information on a well-integrated platform to help farmers combat plant diseases, insect pests, and weeds. An important philosophical underpinning of PIPE is that education and extension activities for both integrated pest management and risk management associated with crop insurance should proceed hand-in-hand. PIPE is built on the existing USDA, university, and state Departments of Agriculture infrastructures and benefits from an informal partnership with industry.