Corn Disease Management

Goal #1

Develop and validate prediction tools for diseases and mycotoxins affecting corn to maximize the efficacy of management decisions and consequently reduce yield losses

Milestones/Performance Expectations:

  • Development of new, or validation of existing, crop disease risk assessment models, into forecasting tools for economically important diseases and mycotoxin contamination using historical data and new data collected via the NPTMI cooperators.
  • Improved understanding of the relative contributions of in-field vs. external inoculum sources to disease development and crop loss.
  • Improved understanding of the relationship among environment, production region, pathogen survival and inoculum levels, and disease intensity.
  • Refined management recommendations based on new information gained through these applied research projects.
  • Develop graphical user interfaces (GUIs) including smartphone applications (apps) for delivering models efficiently to clientele.

Performance Measures:

Preliminary models for diseases and mycotoxin contamination of corn. Models describing the relationship of environment with local pathogen populations and inoculum levels in corn producing regions of the US. Information regarding factors essential for developing the next generation of disease risk assessment models.

Research Needs:

  • Direct quantifications of associations among crop residue, disease intensity, inoculum presence and abundance throughout the growing season.
  • Optimization and/or development of corn-pathogen monitoring methods including spore sampling of air, corn residue and soil samples.
  • Improved understanding of weather variables that affect corn disease development.
  • Model spatio-temporal dynamics of diseases in corn.

Outputs:

  • Data sets of corn disease epidemics in the US
  • Disease prediction tools for corn
  • GUIs and Smartphone apps
  • Improved understanding of the role of surface crop residue as a primary inoculum source
  • Improved suggestions for corn farmers on disease management

Resources:

Multiple collaborative locations distributed across the U.S., representing different production regions and cropping systems. A team approach will be used where plant pathologists, plant disease epidemiologists  and other agricultural scientists will collaborate to develop elite forecasting tools for corn diseases that are tailored to specific regions within or effective across the entire corn production belt. To accomplish this goal, while adding personnel and forecasting tools, a minimum budget of $800,000 per year with 5% increases per year will be needed to meet these needs.

Anticipated Impact:

These projects provide the next generation of tools to assess corn disease and will be tested through larger multi-state projects. Farmers will make decisions based on regionally validated science-based information. These projects address specific knowledge gaps identified through interaction with corn farmers.

Goal #2

Enhance communication and end-user education/outreach for an audience including, but not limited to, farmers, agricultural advisors, research community, and grain processors.

Milestones/Performance Expectations:

  • Resources and recommendations related to the integrated management of corn diseases on the Crop Protection Network (CPN) and Take Action websites.
  • Improved dissemination of corn disease information and management techniques through an interdisciplinary approach.
  • Training exercises (videos, webinars, etc.) for farmers and practitioners on how to use newly developed tools.

Performance Measures:

Best disease management methods, validated by science-based research, are thoroughly publicized to farmers, their advisors, and grain processors.

Research Needs:

  • Continue to update and enhance the content of CPN and Take Action websites.
  • Conduct surveys of farmers to assess how they acquire information about the adoption of corn disease management techniques, and potential barriers to adoption.
  • Develop tools that will help farmers assess and understand the value of adopting corn disease management practices.
  • On-farm demonstrations of best available management options for corn diseases.

Outputs:

  • Timely information about corn disease risk for farmers via access to online resources and through mobile device platforms.
  • Information on corn disease management available via national websites and customized for distribution through extension programs in states where corn is grown. Avenues include the CPN and the Take Action Program.
  • Results from on farm demonstrations of technologies developed by NPTMI.

Resources:

Multiple collaborative locations distributed across the U.S. A team approach will be used where researchers and Extension personnel will collaborate to develop multiple outputs for corn disease management in the U.S. To accomplish this goal, a minimum budget of $200,000 per year with 5% increases per year will be needed to meet these needs.

Anticipated Impact:

Development and refinement of cost-effective management practices based on evidence-based situations will result in a reduction in corn disease and grain loss. Increased awareness and implementation of management techniques to reduce mycotoxin contamination in corn grain.