US EPA, through its Environmental Technology Initiative program, has given a
$250,000 grant to help advance development and validation of crop disease
models for use in decision making. The original proposal was developed by
Department of Pesticide Regulation, UC IPM, and Campbell Soup Company, and DPR
has contracted with UC IPM to administer the program. Agricultural
Meteorologist Joyce Strand is coordinator.
The overall goal of the new project is to expand the use of computer-based
crop disease forecasting to improve the timing of fungicide applications. The
Although disease models are specifically
targeted, the weather network can also be used to support work on insects,
weeds, and nematodes.
- develop a public-private weather network in support of research and
validation of disease models, carried out through a competitive proposal
- promote crop disease model research, validation, and outreach to encourage
adoption of this technology.
In recent years public and private sector scientists have made progress in
developing models that describe the relationships between environmental
variables and disease development. The proposed network will facilitate
validation of these models to make sure that they will work across the
California growing areas. After a model is validated, PCAs and growers will be
updated on use of the new technology and will be able to use either their own
or a representative weather station in conjunction with the model to make
Called "California PestCast," the new project is directed by a five-member
steering committee: Jenny Broome and Paul Gosselin (Department of Pesticide
Regulation), Bob Curtis (Campbell Soup Company), Kim Crum (California
Association of Pest Control Applicators), and Coordinator Strand. This group
provides direction and determines which model projects will be funded. A
technical advisory group of researchers is also in place. A call for proposals
was issued in spring 1996.
Cooperation and The Public-Private Network
A large number of models, crops, and regions can be supported with the
participation of the agricultural industry as funding partners. The US EPA
funds will be used primarily for central costs of the network.
In 1995 UC IPM and the Center for Pest Management (CPMRE) funded Extension
Plant Pathologist Doug Gubler as he worked to validate grape powdery mildew and
Botrytis models in Napa, Sonoma, and Kern counties. Growers in those areas
purchased weather stations that could measure the weather variables needed by
the models, and located them strategically to cover as many local climates as
UC IPM and CPMRE provided equipment and software to retrieve the data
from the remote stations, store it, and make it available to Gubler, the
cooperating farm advisors, and participating growers. An IPM Smith-Lever grant
helped to pay for the study, and the large pool of weather data significantly
contributed to the project's widespread results.
With Gubler's project as evidence of growers' willingness to contribute in a
substantial way to validation projects, it was decided to stretch the EPA
funding by asking for matching industry support in building the weather
network. In May a call for proposals was issued to researchers and the
agricultural industry. Brief proposals were required to describe the crop-pest
system under study, the nature of the work to be done, evidence of industry
contribution, and the type of support needed, such as stations, data
acquisition or telemetry hardware, software, or services.
The Weather Network
Network: Five weather station manufacturers have each lent UC IPM a datalogger
and sensors for demonstration and comparison. The weather stations were
installed in spring 1996 at the UC Davis climatological benchmark station on
the west campus. The stations use radio or cellular phone telemetry to transmit
the data to UC IPM. Ease of installation, maintenance, reliability of the
stations and telemetry equipment, and quality of software are being evaluated.
A summary of the experience with the different stations will be available in
Joyce Strand and Marty Martino install a weather station for testing potential use in the PestCast weather network.
Joyce Strand examines meteorological equipment as Marty Martino and Craig
Anderson look on.
|One of the initial tasks of the project is to determine what equipment will be
suitable for the weather network. Many weather stations being examined by the
project steering committee have the potential to meet the needs of this
project, and most can provide additional features such as frost alarms and data
for calculating degree-days or irrigation scheduling. The steering committee is
working with the UC Davis purchasing department to find manufacturers that can
provide the most appropriate product for the best price.
Growers, PCAs, and
others joining with the project will be able to take advantage of the work
going into equipment selection and the quantity pricing quoted to UCD. Many
stations from a variety of manufacturers are available. Stations purchased for
this project need to be accurate and reliable; capable of storing data on-site
and telemetering it to a remote computer; easy to set-up and use; compatible
with the overall network; and competitive for start-up, operating, and
The network will be made up of several subnetworks of stations that collect
data locally, with further collection into UC IPM's statewide system. In
configuring the network and determining the type of telemetry to use, many
issues have been considered, including presence of existing networks, and
ability to build on them; regions, specific station locations, and terrain; and
start-up, operating, and maintenance costs.
Contributing companies are:
Adcon Telemetry, Inc.
Campbell Scientific, Inc.
Abbeon Cal (Lufft station)
Gempler's (Metos station)
SCI Sensing and Control, Inc.
Chuck Rivara, California Tomato Research Institute, and Janet Anderson,
Director, Division of Biopesticides and Pollution Prevention, US EPA, examine
weather station installed for validation of tomato disease models. (Photo by
|Initially one project has been funded. PestCast is contributing a local data
acquisition computer and software for collection of data and two weather
stations in the Sacramento Valley.|
System: Blackmold, powdery mildew, and late blight of tomatoes
Participants: C. Rivara, California Tomato Research Institute; J. Welty,
Processed Tomato Foundation; R.M. Davis, UC Davis; M. Cahn, UCCE Sutter-Yuba
counties; G. Miyao, UCCE Yolo County; R. Mullen, UCCE San Joaquin County; H.
Bolkan, D. Larsen, R. Curtis, Campbell Soup Company; Tomato Disease Forecasting
Committee; 11 stations in San Joaquin, Sacramento, Sutter, and Yolo
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