OARDC receives national research award for critical soybean rust

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The Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) is one of the recipients of the 2012 Experiment Station Section Award of Excellence in Multistate Research for its work to rapidly address the threat of soybean rust to U.S. agricultural production.

The annual award is given by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) in recognition of successful, well-coordinated, high-impact, multi-institution research efforts. It was presented Nov. 11 at APLU's annual awards program in Denver.

OARDC scientists earned the award along with colleagues from more than 30 U.S. and Canadian land-grant universities, federal agencies and industry associations involved in the project, officially called NCERA (North Central Extension and Research Activity)-208 "Response to Emerging Soybean Rust Threat."

"This award recognizes the fact that our multistate research network enables the land-grant colleges of agriculture to rapidly mobilize to meet and address research needs on emerging threats, as well as to coordinate research activities on priority regional and national topics," said OARDC Director Steve Slack, who is also administrative adviser of the winning project.

NCERA-208 has identified management strategies for soybean rust, a fungal disease that poses a serious threat to soybean production. First detected in the U.S. in 2004, soybean rust has caused serious concern due to high yield losses from the disease experienced in South America. Since then, it has spread through the southern and midwestern U.S., with some states experiencing severe yield losses in isolated areas.

Among many accomplishments, the NCERA-208 team has closely tracked the disease using an extensive network initially of over 2,300 "sentinel plots," helping farmers know more precisely where the disease is likely to occur and when and what types of fungicides to use.

Timely, accurate information has greatly reduced the amount of fungicide used by growers, saving the soybean industry hundreds of millions of dollars and reducing human and environmental health risks.

"This was truly a monumental effort by colleagues in the other states, especially the southern states where soybean rust can survive the winter, as well as some unsung heroes right here in Ohio: several students, a large team of Extension educators and the managers who run the OARDC agricultural research stations," said Anne Dorrance, an OARDC and OSU Extension plant pathologist who has led soybean rust research and outreach efforts in Ohio.

OARDC and OSU Extension are the research and outreach arms, respectively, of Ohio State's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

NCERA-208 team researchers have also made valiant efforts to test and register fungicides for use in the U.S., giving soybean producers more options for controlling the disease. The group is also being recognized for innovative research on disease-resistant soybean varieties, which will provide more environmentally and economically sustainable long-term soybean rust management.

Education has also been a vital component of the project, as the team has produced numerous printed and multimedia materials that have been critical for educating soybean growers, regulators and other industry members in the U.S. and abroad about soybean rust.

Support for NCERA-208 comes from the Multistate Research Fund, established in 1998 by the Agricultural Research, Extension, and Education Reform Act (an amendment to the Hatch Act of 1888) to encourage and enhance multistate, multidisciplinary research on critical issues that have a national or regional priority.


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