1995IPM Computer Systems
The UC IPM computer systems group develops databases and software to assist the University's statewide pest management extension and applied agricultural research programs. Products may be used in reseach, information delivery, or as practical tools for growers, PCAs and other IPM decision makers.
Joyce Strand is computer systems manager. Buz Dreyer, Ed Morgan and Ann Strawn are programmer/analysts involved in the development and maintenance of programs and training of users. Marty Martino maintains the weather databases; Donna Seaver develops printed resources for the computer programs; and Caroline Malley has been staffing the help desk to assist users in solving computer problems. Erin Borden has been working with the California Department of Pesticide Regulation and UC experts to develop a database of alternative pest control methods for agricultural pests.
Software on the UC IPM system includes both the computer's research utilities and a series of pest management-related programs collected under the title "IMPACT." In summer 1996 the on-line system will be retired and its resources made available on the World Wide Web.
1994-95 HighlightsUC IPM computer staff have spent much of the year creating an entirely new IMPACT that users will access from a new central computer starting spring or summer 1996. Preparations for this new system have included
World Wide Web Project
The Statewide IPM Project's World Wide Web Home Page (http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/) will be accessible in fall 1995. Initially, the Home Page will lead readers to information about the IPM Project, the resources we can provide our audience, and a computer version of the Pest Management Guidelines and Pest Notes series. Additional IPM resources will be added over time, with most of IMPACT coming to the WWW in Summer 1996.
The World Wide Web (also known as "the WWW" or "the Web") is a part of the Internet that lets on-line readers easily view styled documents called "pages." Travellers on the Internet access the WWW using a simple graphical interface such as Netscape Navigator or NCSA Mosaic. With this software viewer or "browser," a user can read a published page or navigate to other pages by simply clicking on underlined hypertext links.
The Pest Management Guidelines database and the new Pest Notes series of short leaflets were selected to be the first UC IPM resource on the Web. These two series provide extensive information about controlling pests on 35 agricultural crops and in the home and garden. The guidelines have been available for several years in printed form and on-line as a part of IMPACT. But on the Web we can go beyond the printed guidelines and traditional computer delivery by illustrating them with photos, drawings, and other graphics, or linking them to related subjects. For example, in a guideline about managing codling moths in apples, users can click on the word "larva" to see a picture of a codling moth in the larval stage. Similar links to photos of other life stages, damage caused by the pest, degree-day tables, traps, etc. can help a reader to learn more about a topic.
New Computer System
The IMPACT computer system gives multiple users simultaneous access to its databases. In recent years computers necessary to provide such service have become much smaller, cheaper to purchase, and simpler and less expensive to maintain than earlier systems such as our existing Prime minicomputer. Earlier this year, to modernize our system and reduce our costs, we purchased a small but powerful Digital Equipment Corporation Alpha 2100 Server, capable of delivering information to multiple dial-in users and across the Internet. The switch to the new system is expected in spring or summer, 1996.
The new system will house the databases IPM has traditionally delivered: California weather data, UC IPM Pest Management Guidelines, California pesticide use data and summaries, phenology models, and a database of pesticides registered on California crops. In addition, a new database cataloguing possible nonchemical and chemical alternatives for managing pests is being developed, as well as databases listing information about the research projects UC IPM has sponsored since 1979.
Other resources, such as the degree-day calculator, weather summary program, and research tools for developing plant and pest phenology models, will not be available on-line when the new system is put in place. Instead, microcomputer versions that interface smoothly with weather or other data from the on-line system will be developed.
The UC IPM programmer/analysts have spent the year learning the new hardware and converting current databases for the new system using new database software. In some cases, for instance the pesticide use data and the registration database, the result will be identical to what users see on the current Prime version. In the case of weather, however, significant work is underway to expand the number of stations, the types of weather variables, and the reporting timeframes.
The new weather database is being designed to store not only daily information, but data reported in hourly or more frequent time steps. While the current version is limited in the data variables that can be stored, the new database will be able to handle leaf wetness, soil temperatures at multiple depths, new wind variables, and virtually any other variable for which we have a steady source.
The database will house significantly more stations, with the additions coming from two networks. Data for an additional 270 long-term climate stations in California will be included. Also, a new network of stations that report variables important in decision-making for the control of plant diseases will be coming on-line during the next two years in some California growing areas. We expect that these data will be stored in the IPM database in hourly increments.
IPM continues to spend considerable resources to make sure that the data available through the weather database are accurate. After the computer examines incoming data for errors, meteorology assistant Marty Martino reviews the data rejected by the program to determine whether questionable data values were in error or not. Since expanding the number of incoming stations will significantly increase the work in this area, we are developing a more sophisticated "expert system" to assist with quality control.
The computer staff has developed databases andsoftware for microcomputers and continues to assist funded researchers with testing documentation, production, and distribution of microcomputer software products. Activity in this area was lighter than usual in 1994-95, since our emphasis was on converting the on-line system.
CALEX/Rice. CALEX/Rice applies an expert systems approach to decision making in California rice production. In its second year of release this MS-DOS program was revised to enhance its user interface and make a few changes in the underlying rules that support the advice it gives. Approximately 150 California rice growers have purchased CALEX/Rice.
NEMABASE. Developed by UC Davis nematologists Edward Caswell-Chen, Howard Ferris, and Becky Westerdahl with funding from UC IPM, this new database describes the host status of plant species to plant-parasitic nematodes worldwide. The database gives fast, easy access to information pulled from the scientific literature, including more than 38,000 plant-nematode interactions. Testing and production have only recently begun, but the database should be available on disk for computers running Windows in fall 1995.
Assisting IMPACT Users
IMPACT Manual. The IMPACT User's Manual was extensively revised to bring it up-to-date with changes made in the weather database, pest management guidelines, the pesticide use database, mail system, and in particular, the use of CALLIPM version 3 to access the system.
Training Classes. Training classes are scheduled throughout the year on the Davis and Riverside campuses, at Kearney Agricultural Center, and at other locations by special arrangement. In 1994-95, Ann Strawn and Joyce Strand conducted seven sessions.
Help Desk. Computer staff provide telephone assistance to users who call the help line (530-752-7826) on weekdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.