Epidemic in Turf Management: Herbicide Resistance in Annual Bluegrass

by Patricia McDaniels, University of Tennessee
Annual bluegrass is one of the most common weeds of turfgrass on golf courses, sports fields and sod farms, not to mention residential and commercial lawns. Unfortunately this nemesis of pristine landscapes has also developed resistance to many common herbicides. Researchers with the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture are participating in a national effort to address what many landscape managers call an epidemic of herbicide resistance in annual bluegrass plaguing managed turf systems.
As part of a $3.2 million, 15-state USDA Specialty Crop Research Initiative grant, UTIA turfgrass researcher Jim Brosnan will lead a team of Tennessee weed scientists in sampling annual bluegrass populations across the state. The team will travel the state’s three grand divisions to take samples from golf courses, sports fields, both residential and commercial lawns, as well as sod production farms. The sampled specimens will then be propagated in a controlled laboratory setting and tested for resistance to commonly used herbicides. The goal is to quantify the scope of herbicide resistance in annual bluegrass populations across Tennessee. Additionally, Brosnan’s team will also be developing new diagnostic assays to detect herbicide resistance in annual bluegrass, researching annual bluegrass seed persistence in soil, as well as the effects of turfgrass cultural practices on annual bluegrass infestation.

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Robotic weeding may be the way of the future

The future of weeding is here, and it comes in the form of a robot.

The growing popularity of robotic weeders for specialty crops has grown partly out of necessity, says Steven Fennimore, an extension specialist at the University of California, Davis. Specialty crops are vegetables like lettuce, broccoli, tomatoes, and onions. They are not mass-produced like corn, soybeans, and wheat. Continue reading

USDA-NIFA to Invest in Specialty Crop Research

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced Fiscal Year 2018 funding for research and extension activities to enhance productivity, safety, and innovation in the specialty crop industry. Funding is made through the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI), authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

“To be competitive in a global market, U.S. specialty crop producers need to use sophisticated technologies and prudent practices,” said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. “These NIFA investments support large-scale systems projects that we expect will result in knowledge, which can promote efficient and effective production, processing, and distribution practices, along with long-term solutions to specialty crop industry challenges.” Continue reading

Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI)

The purpose of the SCRI program is to address the critical needs of the specialty crop industry by awarding grants to support research and extension that address key challenges of national, regional, and multi-state importance in sustaining all components of food and agriculture, including conventional and organic food production systems. Projects must address at least one of five focus areas:

  • Research in plant breeding, genetics, genomics, and other methods to improve crop characteristics
  • Efforts to identify and address threats from pests and diseases, including threats to specialty crop pollinators
  • Efforts to improve production efficiency, handling and processing, productivity, and profitability over the long term (including specialty crop policy and marketing)
  • New innovations and technology, including improved mechanization and technologies that delay or inhibit ripening
  • Methods to prevent, detect, monitor, control, and respond to potential food safety hazards in the production efficiency,handling and processing of specialty crops.

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iPiPE Cooperative Agricultural Project RFA is open

The Integrated Pest Information Platform for Extension and Education (iPiPE) is now accepting applications for 4-year Crop-Pest Program statements of interest for their Cooperative Agricultural Projects. The iPiPE CAP, funded by a 2015 USDA AFRI 5-yr $7 million grant, provides such an infrastructure with cyberage tools, information products and expert commentary for detection and management of new, foreign, or emerging target pests and endemic pests that threaten U.S. crops. By categorizing pests, data, and users, it enables sharing pest observations while protecting privacy of individuals, companies, and government agencies. iPiPE Crop-Pest Programs (CPPs) incentivize growers and consultants to submit observations on target and endemic pests by providing tools and information for timely management decisions. Coordinated by extension professionals from across the nation, CPPs address a variety of crops and pests and provide undergraduate students with hands-on extension and diagnostic experiences. Risk-based research helps prioritize detection efforts for target pests and direct in-field scouting for endemic pests.

Observations housed in a national pest observation depository enable future research using geographically extensive, multi-year databases. The iPiPE CAP will fund 7 new CPPs in 2018.

Deadline: May 4, 2017, at 5:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time Continue reading

NIFA Announces Funding Opportunities in Food Safety and Crop Pest Management

NIFA Announces $11 Million to Support Antimicrobial Resistance Research

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced $11 million in available funding for projects that mitigate antimicrobial resistance (AMR), a growing public health issue that affects more than 2 million people annually. Funding is made through NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.  Read the full press release at the NIFA website. Continue reading

Assistant Professor, Extension Specialty Crops Plant Pathologist, University of Tennessee

Position: 12-month tenure-track, Assistant Professor (100% Extension) of Entomology and Plant Pathology, with particular emphasis on pathogens of non-ornamental specialty crops

Location: University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, Knoxville, Tennessee

Duties and responsibilities: The recruited individual is expected to develop and deliver a vibrant, nationally recognized innovative applied research and Extension education program focused on diseases of one or more important or emerging crops of Tennessee (e.g., fruits, vegetables, tobacco, hemp). The individual will provide technical expertise on disease management, will develop an educational program using traditional and innovative outreach tools for diverse audiences (e.g., Extension agents and specialists, producers, regional and state leaders, Master Gardeners) and will provide leadership in developing a specialty crop Extension and outreach program that meets the needs of all eligible clientele regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, religion or veteran status. The candidate also is expected to participate in the training of M.S. and Ph.D. students and to provide service to the department, university, and professional societies or organizations. Continue reading