Award for research excellence in work on soybean rust

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The 2012 Experiment Station Section Award of Excellence in Multistate research will go to a team of scientists from agricultural experiment stations at land-grant universities across the country for identifying management strategies for soybean rust, a fungal disease that poses a serious threat to U.S. soybean production.

Those recognized include Doug Jardine, Extension plant pathologist with K-State Research and Extension.

For the past five years, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) have presented this award in recognition of successful, well-coordinated, high-impact research and extension efforts. The team was honored at the Annual APLU Awards Program in Denver, Colorado, on November 11, 2012.

This year’s winning project, NCERA-208 “Response to Emerging Soybean Rust Threat,” was recognized for responding rapidly to the threat of soybean rust, which was first detected in the U.S. in 2004, and caused serious concern due to high yield losses from the disease in South America. The disease has spread through the Southern and Midwestern U.S., with some states experiencing severe yield losses in isolated areas. Because disease-resistant soybean varieties are not yet available, the industry is completely dependent on fungicides to control its spread.

“Kansas soybean producers were major beneficiaries of this collaborative effort,” Jardine said.

Beginning in 2005, soybean rust sentinel plots were established across the state to monitor the establishment and spread of rust within the state.

“Because of these efforts, growers were confident in not applying fungicides to their crops in 2005 and 2006. In 2007, when soybean rust did appear in Kansas, fungicide applications were able to be targeted only to those areas of the state with established infections,” Jardine said. “Continued monitoring has indicated that no soybean rust has occurred in the state since 2007, saving producers $25 - $30 per acre for every acre not sprayed.”

Jardine is part of the NCERA-208 team of scientists who have taken crucial steps toward minimizing this disease threat. Researchers have made valiant efforts to test and register fungicides for use in the U.S., giving soybean producers more options for controlling the disease. The project established an extensive disease monitoring system that has helped farmers know more precisely when and what types of fungicide to use. Timely, accurate information has greatly reduced the amount of fungicide used by growers, thus saving the soybean industry hundreds of millions of dollars and reducing human and environmental health risks.

The group is also being recognized for innovative research on disease-resistant soybean varieties, which will provide more environmentally and economically sustainable long-term disease management. The project has produced numerous multimedia materials that have been important for educating soybean growers, regulators, and other industry members in the U.S. and abroad about soybean rust and have diminished their apprehension about the disease.

Support for this project comes from the Multistate Research Fund established in 1998 by the Agricultural Research, Extension, and Education Reform Act (an amendment to the Hatch Act of 1888) to encourage and enhance multistate, multidisciplinary research on critical issues that have a national or regional priority.

This year’s Award of Excellence in Multistate Research honors the outstanding collaboration and commitment of the participating scientists representing more than 30 different land-grant universities, federal agencies, and industry associations.

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