Using Twitter to help track crop diseases

     Farmers, agronomists, crop consultants and specialists now have a place to collectively document and track corn and soybean diseases this growing season. The Twitter accounts @corndisease and @soydisease will be used to upload photos of crop diseases as they show up across the country. This effort is part of the Integrated Pest Information Platform for Education and Extension (iPiPE). The hope is to use tweets of crop disease photos from around the country for future disease tracking and prevention purposes.

     To help with the effort, take a photo of the crop disease when out scouting fields and then tweet the photo to @corndisease or @soydisease with the name of the disease, and the county and state it’s found in.

     “Much like weather forecasting, we think this project can be used as a preventative strategy that farmers can use to get ahead of the ‘storm’ regarding crop diseases,” said Daren Mueller, associate professor and extension plant pathology specialist at Iowa State University. “The information we gather from the Twitter campaign will be used to help predict trends in crop diseases and allow experts to provide the necessary management tools and information to farmers.”

     Observations will be gathered and entered into a database to track crop disease trends across the country. At large, the iPiPE project is a coordinated, web-based, IT platform that enables the collection, management and delivery of observations, advanced derivative products, expert commentary and alerts on important pests.

     “Our hope is to provide risk-based research, observations on target and endemic pests, and tools for timely management decision-making,” said Carl Bradley, professor and extension plant pathology specialist at University of Kentucky.

     The @soydisease Twitter account also will give away a free field guide each week to the first person that can correctly identify a soybean disease in a photo that will be posted each Wednesday.



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