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- January 1, 2008 - December 31, 2015
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impact statement impact
- Use of the DSS could reduce the amount of fungicide released into the environment, and it could save producers millions of dollars. The DSS is currently being evaluated in a pilot mode by growers in New York but also by investigators in Maine and Florida. The DSS is the communication tool of a large national project designed to both enable effective suppression of late blight and also to reduce the amount of fungicide used in potato (and tomato) production. The DSS will be evaluated in 2011 in Maine, New York, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Kentucky, Wisconsin and Florida. The cumulative savings should be many millions of dollars, with significant reductions in the amount of fungicide used in agriculture.
impact statement issue
- Potato late blight is the same disease that caused the Irish potato famine of the 19th century. Massive amounts of fungicides are used to prevent epidemics. Growers spray eight to 15 times per season to protect their potato crops from this disease. Many of these fungicide applications are used as insurance sprays because the disease is so devastating, even if the probability of disease occurring is low. The disease is dramatically responsive to weather. Cool, wet weather is very favorable to disease development. If the future weather will be unfavorable to disease, then the need for fungicide is dramatically reduced. It is important to enable potato growers to access weather forecasts and predict the impact of this weather on potential disease development. They also need a mechanism to enable accurate predictions of the effect of specific future weather on the need for future fungicide applications. The disease is also influenced by host resistance. Some potato varieties are very susceptible, but others are somewhat resistant. Many people are interested in a more effective/efficient approach to suppressing this disease. Growers want to spray less often because of the economic cost and the potential hazard associated with fungicide exposure. Environmentalists and many consumers want growers to use less fungicide for potential environmental benefit. In the summer of 2009, many homeowners in New York were dismayed to lose their crops to late blight. Many of them were ignorant of what to do and were hungry for helpful information.
impact statement response
- We have developed a web-based decision support system that integrates the effects of the important factors that influence late blight development into a predictor of the need for future fungicide applications. This decision support system (DSS) is currently available to anyone who wants to experiment with it. It enables a knowledge-based approach to suppressing this disease. The web-based DSS is available at http://blight.eas.cornell.edu/blight_dev/. A users manual was constructed and is available at http://www.plantpath.cornell.edu/Fry/lateblightDSS2010.pdf. Several growers in New York experimented with the system and provided constructive feedback. Additionally, the DSS was used in an experimental manner by investigators in Maine and is currently being investigated by researchers in Florida. These users were connected with site-specific weather forecasts for their locations, and they were connected to historical weather data nearest their production location. The DSS was evaluated in a field test in the summer of 2010 at the Cornell University Thompson Research Farm in Freeville, N.Y. The field experiment was a stress test because a source of the pathogen was near the test site. All components in the DSS were available to use: weather observation, weather forecasts, knowledge of fungicide effect, and knowledge of host resistance. Use of the DSS was very successful in that the DSS enabled the producer to suppress late blight effectively but with less fungicide than was used in standard grower practice. It is expected that use of the DSS will enable growers to eliminate one to three fungicide applications on average. This is a savings that could be $1 million to $3 million annually in New York alone. These results were reported in the winter issue of Potato News, the publication of the Empire State Potato Growers, Inc.
impact statement summary
- Potato late blight is a particularly destructive disease that can explode out of control from time to time, as it did in 2009 in New York. The disease is dramatically influenced by weather, host resistance and proximity to a source of the pathogen. Typically, massive amounts of fungicide are used to prevent an epidemic. We have developed a web-based system that enables a grower to control this disease but with reduced amounts of fungicide. The system is available on the web and integrates the effect of weather, host resistance, fungicide and proximity to a source of the pathogen. The system was evaluated in a demonstration plot in Freeville, N.Y., in 2010. Use of the system enabled excellent protection of potatoes using only two-thirds as much fungicide as would typically be used. Several growers in New York and several growers in other states are experimenting with the system. In the next years, funding has been secured to use the system in selected states throughout the U.S.
Other private funding
- Empire State Potato Growers, New York State Integrated Pest Management Program
- Applied Research
- Fry, William Earl Cornell Faculty Member