IPM Leader receives Excellence in Extension Award

At their national meeting in August, the American Phytopathological Society recognized Center for Integrated Pest Management Director Frank Louws with the Excellence in Extension award for his outstanding Extension activities.

One of the primary examples of Dr. Louws’ Extension-based successes is his NC State University department, the Center for IPM. The Center has multiple cooperative agreements with USDA Animal Plant Health Investigative Service and grant funded projects with the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, including the Southern IPM Center. Many of these projects generate new information and translates the information to end-users including farmers, industry organizations and government agencies.

Frank Louws teaches a workshop in a high tunnel.

In addition to directing the Center for IPM, Dr. Louws leads several extension projects at NC State University as well as national and international grant-funded research projects. His extension projects weave university research into public messages that reach extension agents and growers through various types of media.

He has worked with university specialists and other researchers to translate research-based information into publicly accessible products. Media include extension bulletins with up-to-date recommendations, fact sheets, press articles, newsletters, web-based decision tools, webinars and invited talks.

Dr. Louws is best recognized for his leadership in the development and implementation of alternative strategies for disease control in specialty crops. He leads a $3.3 million USDA-NIFA Specialty Crops Research Initiative project on grafting fruiting vegetable plants that involves over 32 experts from over 10 institutions throughout the country. In 2010 he won a state Cooperative Extension Service Foundation Grange award for his leadership over the methyl bromide phase-out program in North Carolina.

Dr. Louws teaches students in a strawberry field trial

In addition to research and publications that have been some of the outputs of the grafting project, the project has resulted in new opportunities for producers of grafted plants as well as a better market for nurseries looking to buy and sell grafted plants. Organic, high tunnel, and large scale conventional growers have turned to grafted plants to manage diseases and other stress factors, to enhance productivity or desirable traits to capture market opportunities.

Dr. Louws also leads a strawberry extension project funded by the state Extension IPM program. A few years ago, he developed a weather-based forecasting tool to help strawberry growers manage gray mold and anthracnose in strawberry. The tool is online at https://ipm.ces.ncsu.edu/strawberry-fruit-infection-risk-tool/.

“Extension is critical to ensure food security, environmental stewardship and rural to urban vitality,” says Dr. Louws. “Extension has, and will continue to make a major difference in the lives of people and I am a very strong advocate for a national and robust extension system. Extension helps to translate new research, works with many partners, and seeks to package available knowledge into systems of information that is practically useful and helpful to serve the public good. On a more personal note, it is an enjoyable calling to work within the extension system, to train the next generation, and see the positive difference this knowledge makes in the lives of people and businesses.”

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