New online tool helps growers manage insects

Farm Forum

CORVALLIS, Ore. – 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 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.