Insect scouting schools are one example of the many ways Alabama Extension is giving back to Alabama farmers.
Alabama Extension professionals gathered in Autaugaville, Ala., to equip farmers with the knowledge and ability to control pests in the field.
Scouting for crop pests has long been an important step in preventing insect damage. With genetically modified seed, many farmers can avoid pests that posed long-time problems and caused significant damage. Still, farmers are battling new pests in the field and integrating old and new methods to save crop yields.
Extension Entomologist Dr. Ron Smith said Scouting School is one of the longest running Extension education programs.
“This program has been around since the 1950s” Smith said. “As time progresses, we are adapting our programs to meet the needs of producers in different areas across the state.”
Regional Extension Agent Rudy Yates said this program is beneficial to producers, providing an ongoing opportunity to learn about agronomic pests and ways to effectively control them.
“The scouting school provides farmers and crop scouts with information on new and old crop pests, scouting techniques, pest control strategies and pesticide safety,” Yates said. “Research results on crop pests and their management are presented to inform farmers and scouts on changes in pest management practices.”
Extension Entomologists Tim Reed and Ron Smith shared research findings, tips for scouting and thoughts on technologies farmers will have access to in the future.
By attending the schools, farmers have an opportunity to brush up on scouting skills and learn about new problems facing their area.
Autauga County farmer Levi Gaines said the scouting school allows him to fine-tune his scouting techniques and anticipate potential problems in the upcoming growing season.
“Everyone needs a refresher course,” Gaines said. “It’s nice to be able to interact with Extension researchers and learn about new problems facing producers, as well as refreshing my memory with issues that have been around for a long time.”
Yates said scouting schools are taking place throughout Alabama, focusing on pests that thrive in different regions of the state, causing more damage in some parts than others.