Lorre Kolb: Using technology to manage white mold in soybeans. We’re visiting today with Damon Smith, Extension Field Crops Plant Pathologist, Department of Plant Pathology, University of Wisconsin-Madison/Extension in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and I’m Lorre Kolb.
Damon, what is white mold and how does it affect soybean growers?
Damon Smith: So white mold is a pretty destructive fungus and it first shows up during the bloom period in soybeans and infects the plant through the flowers and then later on in the season, we notice the destructive symptoms usually are dead stems, completely dead plants.
We also observe that it can be higher variable across the landscapes and even within the field it can be highly variable. A lot of this depends upon the weather and where the wet weather and cool whether has been throughout the season.
Lorre Kolb How has white mold been dealt with previously?
Damon Smith Basically, the way to manage this was to spray fungicides blanket across the field. You would just start when you say the first flower and you had until about the first pod to maximize the efficacy of most of the fungicide products out there. +
The disadvantage with that technique is that some years you may not need it because the weather is not conducive. Maybe a particular field just doesn’t have white mold and they’re quite expensive, so we’re applying products out there that we may not necessarily need.
And in the tight farm economy, we probably can cut back on some of those products if we just don’t need them.
Lorre Kolb Through your research, you’ve developed a new technology to help producers deal with white mold.
Damon Smith We have a new app, smartphone app, called Sporecaster which uses GPS referenced weather data. And you can either be standing in the field or you can enter those GPS coordinates manually into the phone.
Then we’ve programmed the app to use that weather information and do some mathematical formulas which then develop a risk for your filed. And then you can use that risk to determine whether an application of fungicide would be needed at that time. And you can check this daily for an any particular field.
And you can save multiple fields on your farm in that app and you can come back and you can look at the those probabilities. And keep track of what’s going on out there, making better informed decisions is what we really want to do with this app.
Lorre Kolb After you’ve entered all your data, what do you do with that data?
Damon Smith Yes, once you get an over risk threshold, basically you would want to then implement your fungicide application program. We’ve been doing some subsequent work which ties into our Sporecaster work to try to determine which fungicide programs are actually most efficacious and most economically viable.
We have determined and that there are programs out there that give us a really good return on investment and you can contact your local extension agent to get more information on which programs would be best suited for your farm.
Lorre Kolb And how can producers find this app?
Damon Smith Either go to the Nutrient Pest Management website here at University of Wisconsin. Or simply search “Sporecaster” in either the Google Play Store of the iPhone app store.
Lorre Kolb We’ve been visiting today with Damon Smith, Extension Field Crops Plant Pathologist, Department of Plant Pathology, University of Wisconsin-Madison/Extension in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and I’m Lorre Kolb.