Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Soybean Rust: Reducing Fear through a Multidisciplinary Extension Education Effort.

Chad Lee1, Donald Hershman2, James Herbek3, and Timothy Stombaugh2. (1) 423 Plant Science Bldg., University of Kentucky, University of Kentucky, 1405 Veterans Drive, Lexington, KY 40546-0213, (2) Univ of Kentucky, P.O. Box 469, 1205 Hopkinsville St., Princeton, KY 42445, (3) Univ of Kentucky, P.O. Box 469, 1205 Hopkinsville St., Princeton, KY 42445

When soybean rust (Phakopsora pachyrhizi) was identified in the late fall of 2004, Extension specialists from several disciplines organized eleven intensive training sessions across the state to address the fears and concerns of soybean rust. The vast majority of respondents (99%) said that the meetings enhanced their understanding of soybean rust with sufficient information such that 79% of the respondents planned to change some of their intended management practices. About 97% of the respondents planned to scout their fields for soybean rust, 15% planned to hire scouts and the majority planned to spray a fungicide only after scouting. County extension agents responded that 47% of the farmers in their counties were planning to spray for soybean rust at the beginning of the 2005 soybean season. These farmers represented 431,000 acres in the reporting counties. Based on their estimates, only 8% of the farmers actually sprayed a fungicide on 90,955 acres, representing 10% of the total acreage. Of those that sprayed a fungicide, only 6% sprayed because of soybean rust alone, while the remainder sprayed for other reasons in addition to rust. Assuming that soybean fungicides would cost $18.00 per acre to apply, these farmers saved $6,120,000 in fungicide costs by not spraying. Although, not reported in the survey, personal conversations with agents and farmers revealed that many were planning to spray twice, which would double the estimate of dollars saved.