Even in a world of remote-monitoring stations and farm technology, farmers haven’t found anything better than the human eye to identify emerging crop problems.
Insect scouting — sending people into a field of crops to spot early signs of pest problems — is both a tradition and an art form, and University of Georgia Cooperative Extension is committed to making sure Georgia has enough trained scouts to survey the state’s fields.
This June, UGA Extension entomologists hosted two insect scouting schools at the Tifton Campus Conference Center and the Southeast Georgia Research and Education Center in Midville, Georgia.
“Over 2 million acres of Georgia were planted with cotton, peanuts and soybeans this year,” said Phillip Roberts, UGA Extension entomologist. “These types of trainings and demonstrations are a great resource for scouts to learn pest identification and for growers to learn pest management before they cause crop loss.”
UGA Extension has offered insect scouting schools annually for the past four years. The free event encourages participants from all backgrounds and positions to attend and receive the crucial trainings.
An estimated 130 scouts, county Extension agents, growers and Georgia Farm Bureau staff members attended lectures on insect anatomy, biology, monitoring and damage as well as plant anatomy and pathology for peanuts, cotton and soybeans. After the lectures, participants headed into the field to learn scouting procedures and practice insect identification.
“The Georgia Farm Bureau always enjoys opportunities to meet with UGA specialists and learn more about current production practices,” said Raynor Churchwell, Georgia Farm Bureau agricultural programs specialist. “Having a good understanding of crop production issues helps us better represent farmers in the legislative and regulatory arenas. UGA Extension does an exceptional job hosting these hands-on demonstrations and educational opportunities for producers and industry representatives.”