Southern Nursery IPM Working Group receives award for innovations

An app and an e-book that have saved nursery growers over $2 million since their release earned a regional working group a Friends of Southern IPM Bright Idea award. They received the award at the Southern Nursery Association trade show and research conference July 23 in Atlanta.

The Southern IPM Center’s Friends of Southern IPM Award recognizes professionals for outstanding work in IPM. There are six categories, including Bright Idea, plus two awards for graduate students. The Bright Idea award is given to an individual or group who has introduced an idea or product that has improved or has the potential for improving pest management in the field. Southern IPM Center Associate Director Henry Fadamiro from Auburn University presented the award at the Southern Nursery Association awards luncheon on July 23.

The Southern Nursery IPM Working Group, or SNIPM for short, began in 2009 after group leader Dr. Amy Fulcher wanted to collaborate with other university nursery specialists on a regional project.

Southern Nursery IPM Working Group

Southern Nursery IPM Working Group

Fulcher, who was working at the University of Kentucky at the time (she is now at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville), began inviting specialists in other southern states into a working group to collaborate on a project. After one member of the group suggested beginning with an IPM document, the group developed a crop profile and pest management strategic plan. These documents became a foundation for future SNIPM programming and collaboration and are used by regulatory agencies to address issues for the industry. They are viewed or downloaded about 10,000 times per year.

In 2012 the group collaborated on a massive, 300-page e-book on deciduous tree production. Unlike a typical printed book, the e-book contains videos, along with the usual tables, charts and photos. Each chapter focuses on one genera, including dogwood, cherry, and crapemyrtle, along with chapters on container and field production, general nursery IPM, and weed management. The chapters explain the economic value of each crop, research-based production information and integrated pest management for insects, plant diseases, and weeds.

Although the book focuses on southern plants and production issues, Fulcher says that people from several states have downloaded it, as have people from 25 other countries. The feedback has been very positive; in fact, the Magnolia Society asked if the group could separate out the magnolia chapter and distribute parts of it as two newsletter articles.

“Growers have been using the e-book to select cultivars based on our recommendations,” says Sarah White, associate professor and horticultural extension specialist at Clemson University. “We’re glad to know they’re finding the book useful.”

The e-book can be viewed on an iPad or downloaded as a PDF.

“The PDFs are filling a big gap for people who don’t have an iPad,” says Fulcher. “Extension agents have given us good feedback about the book, because they can answer questions by growers by pointing them to a specific chapter in the book.”

As of January of this year, the book had been downloaded by 388 separate users. Based on user evaluations, each download led to increased savings or earnings by an average of $3,313 because of reduced pesticide use or more refined pesticide applications. Fulcher estimated total savings for 2013 was $1,285,444.

A mobile device app called IPMPro, also developed in 2012 by SNIPM, received the same positive feedback. The first of its kind for the green industry, IPMPro uses text notifications to alert growers when key insects, mites and plant diseases of woody plants are emerging, encouraging the grower to begin scouting. In addition to containing images of 100 of the most important pests of woody plants in the eastern U.S., the app also contains time-sensitive plant care and weed management recommendations.

According to feedback from growers, the “reminders are great.” Reminders for scouting and plant care have saved users an average of $3,367 per user, resulting in a total impact of $1,356,901.

Last year the group began producing another e-book, this time on shrub production. The group gave out several printed copies of the book at IPM workshops in June, and the book is now available in iBooks as well.

A series of workshops on IPM for woody plants, organized by working group member Dr. Anthony LeBude, is the group’s latest project. Completed in June, these hands-on workshops led growers through actual practices for scouting, irrigation measurement, weed control, disease management and other management tools. Workshops took place in northern Florida, North Carolina and Tennessee. Altogether, about 105 growers and extension agents attended the meetings.

“We tried to make the workshops as experiential as possible,” Fulcher says. “Anthony hauled weed seedlings to the meetings, so everyone could see and touch the  samples and experience first hand how to identify them. Other trainers made porometers and demonstrated how to use them so participants could take them home to determine the physical properties of their container substrate. We tried to let growers and extension agents experience things that were maybe new for them and that they could do at their nursery or help someone do at a nursery.”

“We had both live and preserved samples of insect pests covering general pests and new and emerging invasive pests, along with annual pests,” says LeBude. “We also taught them how to prevent multi-pest outbreaks using a combination of scouting, monitoring and least toxic alternative pesticides.”

The final session included a practice of their new skills in a nearby nursery or landscape. To find out how growers are implementing their new knowledge, the group will survey the participants in the fall to ask about adoption of IPM techniques learned at the workshop and how those new skills affected their ability to identify and manage pests or plant diseases, use less water during irrigation, or create a weed management plan.

To access resources from SNIPM, go to the following links:

IPM for Shrub Production e-Book:

Deciduous tree production e-book, IPMPro, and general information on SNIPM:

 Contact: Amy Fulcher, University of Tennessee, 865-974-7152 or

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