"The plots are part of a national surveillance system initially established during 2005 in more than 30 soybean-production states throughout the eastern and Midwestern sections of the country," said Linda Kull, program coordinator for the National Soybean Research Laboratory in the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "The network is designed to track the establishment and movement of soybean rust during the growing season and provide timely information for effective management decisions."
Kull points out that the sentinel plots serve as an integral part of a coordinated national effort for the surveillance, prediction, reporting, and management of soybean rust.
"The system has been expanded to include other hosts and pests and a recently updated Good Farming Practices Documentation Tool," Kull said. "This tool will assist producers in substantiating that good farming practices were used to manage soybean rust. Good documentation of early detection and treatment is very important should producers need to file an insurance claim."
This expanded program is known as the Pest Information Platform for Extension and Education (PIPE). The system was established through the cooperative efforts of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Plant Diagnostic Network, State University and Extension Systems, State Departments of Agriculture, soybean Checkoff funds, and local soybean producers.
"PIPE serves as an online, real-time observation and forecasting system that allows growers to access the latest information about which states and counties have confirmed the presence of soybean rust," said Carl Bradley, plant pathologist with U of I Extension. "The system tracks the spread of soybean rust, as well as soybean aphids, in soybean fields across the state."
Bradley notes that State Extension specialists provide frequently updated commentaries on the immediate soybean rust situation and forecasts for future risks and management guide lines.
"PIPE helps producers make timely crop-management decisions to reduce pesticide input costs and environmental exposure to pesticides and increase the efficiency of pesticide applications," Bradley said. "Growers can sign up to receive email notifications of soybean rust confirmations across the nation."
In Illinois, the Soybean Sentinel Plot System, as part of the national PIPE network, is supported by funds from the Illinois Soybean Association, the Illinois Department of Agriculture, the North Central Soybean Research Program, the United Soybean Board, and the USDA Risk Management Agency.
Nationwide reports on the occurrence of soybean rust are available at www.sbrusa.net. Additionally, Illinois reports from the sentinel plots and spore traps can be found at www.soybeanrust.org.