An extension entomology perspective on the status of information networks and pest diagnostics
Frank A. Hale, firstname.lastname@example.org, University of Tennessee, Plant and Pest Diagnostic Center, 5201 Marchant Dr, Nashville, TN
The Cooperative Extension Service has a long history of successfully providing research based information to the agricultural community. Increases in efficiency are needed to counteract reductions in funding from traditional sources. Innovative uses of information delivery allow Extension to continue to provide high quality, relevant educational programming. In a post-9/11 world, increased communication between the Federal agencies and the state land grant universities has been made possible through networks, such as the National Plant Diagnostic Center, which integrate the pest data collected by state plant pest diagnostic labs. An on-line Extension information system (eXtension) is being developed to meet the needs of an expanding customer base. Pest Information Platform for Extension and Education (PIPE) has been developed by the USDA to provide producers with risk management information on new pests through a nationally coordinated network. Regional IPM Centers have been established to enhance interdisciplinary and multi-organizational IPM research and outreach, provide timely information on IPM practices and use patterns, organized responses to emerging regional and national issues, and administer regional IPM grant programs under CSREES oversight. All this sounds good on paper, but how do all these new initiatives address the needs of the Extension entomologist? The typical Extension entomologist tends to be responsible for educational programs in several state-wide commodity areas. Since funding, staffing, and infrastructure are often not adequate at the state level, the Extension entomologist often lacks the time to properly respond to new pests, programs, and initiatives. Administrative pressure to obtain grants and increased data collection associated with new programs or initiatives are additional time constraints. While efforts are being made to upgrade the capabilities of state plant pest diagnostic labs, they still tend to be much lower than comparable USDA labs.