Rust Program: Saved, For Now

Eight months ago, the fate of the usually robust official soybean rust Web site, sbr.ipmpipe.org, looked bleak as its primary sponsorship ended.

The Risk Management Agency (RMA) has provided about three-quarters of the project funding for USDA‘s Integrated Pest Management — Pest Information Platform for Extension and Edu­cation (ipmPIPE) Web site and university sentinel plots ever since the project was unveiled in 2004. RMA monies are typically available to new projects for several years.

As time was running out on the RMA multi-million-dollar contribution, the leadership of the ipmPIPE project scurried to find new funding.

“In effect, we were similar to a patient wheeled into the emergency room with no heartbeat,” says Don Hershman, University of Kentucky Extension plant pathologist and a former chairman/current member of the PIPE Steering Committee. “Nobody was willing to call it yet, so they started beating on the patient’s chest, giving life support, adrenalin into the heart, different things. Next thing you know, there was a heart beat. The patient was in intensive care for a while, then a regular room, and now the patient’s basically seeing the doctor occasionally. Now the patient’s being monitored.”

This year’s funding is more diverse than in the past, although some sources are the same: The North Central Soybean Research Program and the United Soybean Board have recommitted to providing more than $360,000 in soybean check-off dollars and RMA has come back with a much smaller amount of funding. “The local commodity boards and local check-off boards in many states will fill in for the federal dollars, at least for this year,” Hershman says. “It looked bleak when RMS pulled out in June. Now here we are, pretty much firing on all cylinders again.

“We’re set for 2009, but who knows exactly how 2010 will work out,” he says.

Modifications Grounded

The ipmPIPE Web site will still provide all the regular soybean rust features, including maps, Extension commentaries, and chronology of positive detections in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.

The difference in funding will be measured in fewer sentinel plots in some states. Many of the northern Tier 3 states, which have a greatly reduced risk for rust, will implement monitoring on an as-needed basis. At times of risk, they will mobilize, scout, and ask for suspect samples to be sent in. In the Tier 2 states in the nation’s midsection and the southern Tier 3 states, there will continue to be a combination of fixed sentinel plots and the occasional mobile scouting effort.

What’s New

Regular visitors to the Web site need to make a change in their “Favorites” list from the familiar www.sbrusa.net address to the new sbr.ipmpipe.org.

The site also includes ipmPIPE projects for legumes, kudzu, and soybean aphids. New this year is the link to the cucurbit/downy mildew PIPE Web site, while the pecan/pecan nut casebearer PIPE project will be added during the year.

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