By Moneen Jones and Joseph Russo
EDITOR’S NOTE – This article is the second in a two-part series that introduces a reader to today’s information technologies and how they can be harnessed to support information demands of integrated pest management (IPM) and food security. In the first article, published in Soybean South, the case was made for an information technology (IT) platform for agriculture. In this article, a description is given of an IT platform design called integrated Pest Information Platform for Extension and Education or “iPiPE.”
The first iPiPE design originated 10 years ago with the soybean rust website, which became known as Integrated Pest Management PiPE or ipmPiPE. The ipmPiPE was a collaboration of Extension professionals in the United States, Canada and Mexico. The ipmPiPE offered IT tools, pest observations and models to meet the information requirements for the economical management of invasive and endemic crop pests. With its awardwinning success at monitoring soybean rust and providing guidelines for its control, the ipmPiPE design was extended to other geographies, crops and pests, such as the Legume, North Central, Onion, Pecan and Cucurbit ipmPiPEs.
The PiPE design took another evolutionary step with the integrated PiPE or iPiPE. The iPiPE has advanced IT features, including the modernization of data collection (i.e. electronic records versus paper notes) and storage (central database for data sharing); scouting apps for mobile devices; pest alerts to provide lead time for implementing control practice and multi-form derivative products from weather, crop and pest models to support commentaries and recommendations. It can guide consultants and other agricultural professionals in the management of targeted endemic pests in specific geographies and on specific crops.
Importance Of Sharing Information
A key component of iPiPE is embodied in its logo “progress through sharing.” Currently, consultants and researchers collect large quantities of pest observation, but usually do not release them in a timely manner. Until pest data sets are centrally compiled and a mechanism exists for sharing, agricultural professionals cannot take full advantage of new technologies (including apps for smart mobile devices, big data analysis, model-based solutions and cloud computing).
The iPiPE addresses this shortcoming through its structure and tools for collecting, storing and sharing observations among its participants, and for creating advanced, derivative products from the observations. Guided by its policies for pest categories and user access privileges, the iPiPE strikes a balance between protecting the contributor confidentiality and the sharing of data among participants. The end result is a shift in culture from individuals storing data for personal use to a near, real-time community exchange of crop and pest observations.
In the end, the greatest beneficiary of the iPiPE, as with the earlier ipmPiPEs, is the producer. Through its planned public interface, producers can directly access the iPiPE online and view crop-specific, derivative products from pest observations in their geographies. These products include pest activity maps, Extension commentaries, recommendations and guidelines. The products and other online materials will make producers aware of important invasive and endemic pests and provide solutions for their control.
Dr. Moneen M. Jones is participating in the iPiPE as an Extension professional from the University of Missouri’s Fisher Delta Research Center in Portageville, Mo. Dr. Joseph M. Russo is president of ZedX, Inc., the company responsible for developing the information technology components of the iPiPE.