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Newly funded projects will further IPM in vegetable, cotton and residential pest management

Nine researchers will pursue new methods for fighting a variety of pest management challenges in the South, in both agricultural and urban settings. Over the next year, the Southern IPM Center will spend a total of $257,724 to address issues in the region including bed bugs in multifamily housing, soybean looper, pecan bacterial scorch, tawny crazy ant and others with its IPM Enhancement Grant.

The IPM Enhancement Grant is one of the funding mechanisms that the Southern IPM Center uses to support and expand integrated pest management research and extension in the southern region. The annual competition begins with a request for proposals in September, with new projects funded by March of the next year.

A panel of experts outside the region selected the nine projects out of 37 project proposals submitted for the grant. Individual funding amounts range from $9,910 for a new invasive conehead termite IPM working group to $40,000 for an existing working group on the tawny crazy ant to create and disseminate extension materials.

Projects were scattered throughout the region. Researchers in Mississippi will embark on a project to improve sweet potato insect pest management in the Southeast, while scientists at North Carolina State University will use a citizen science project to teach the public about tree IPM. Specialists at Clemson and University of Georgia will streamline the popular “MyIPM” apps into one app that contains information on pests and diseases from different regions, as well as adding pests for apple, pear, cherry and cranberries.

“We were excited to see the breadth and variety of proposals that were submitted this year,” said Joseph LaForest, co-director of SIPMC. “Those that were funded this year promise to provide new tools to help improve management of pests and put them in the hands of people that can use them.”

Below is a list of the newly funded projects:

  • Improvement of sweet potato insect pest management in the southeast, Mississippi State University, Fred Musser, $29,952
  • Efficient building-wide inspections for early detection of bed bugs in multifamily housing, University of Tennessee, Karen Vail, $30,000
  • Therapeutic management of pecan bacterial leaf scorch using carbon nanotubes, Texas A&M AgriLife, Young-Ki Jo, $30,000
  • Fact-finding and early research for regionally-specific IPM for plant bug in southeastern US cotton. Virginia Tech, Sally Taylor, $30,000
  • Differentiating soybean looper populations to protect Caribbean and North American crops, North Carolina State University, Dominic Reisig, $20,959
  • Invasive conehead termite IPM working group, Fresh From Florida, Sue Alspach, $9,910
  • MyTree: Using citizen science to teach and learn about tree IPM in the city, North Carolina State University, Stephen Frank, $29,866
  • Streamlining and advancing the smartphone “MyIPM” app series, University of Georgia, Brett Blaauw, $37,037
  • Creation and dissemination of tawny crazy ant extension materials, Auburn University, Lawrence C. Graham, $40,000

“Every year we are pleased to see the quality of proposals that are submitted for our Enhancement grants program,” said Danesha Seth Carley, co-director of SIPMC. “This year, as with other years, we were able to fund some really excellent projects that we know will help advance integrated pest management programs throughout the South. We look forward to having another great year.”

The Southern IPM Center is funded by a grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

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