Timely management of crop pests is essential for growers to minimize crop damage and ensure maximum yield potential. But with larger farms and unpredictable pest migrations, monitoring fields for insects and other crop pests is easier said than done.

A new resource developed by Iowa State University’s Corn and Soybean Initiative is intended to simplify this process. The North Central ipmPIPE website, accessed at http://www.ncipmpipe.org, is an interactive collection of maps and related resources designed to help growers and agribusinesses more easily track and manage crop pests of regional importance.

The maps consist of data on pest counts, sightings and locations gathered by a cooperative network of growers and crop professionals spread across Iowa. Casual visitors can use the site to browse pests active in their areas, or create an account to customize maps to view. Those who want to be more actively involved can join the monitoring network.

Because anyone can sign up to be a contributor, the site amplifies pest monitoring efforts, and gives busy growers virtual access to more complete and up-to-date information on the local pest outlook from anywhere they can access the Internet.

“We built the website to serve as a regional pest management tool that can complement Iowa’s local scouting networks,” said Daren Mueller, coordinator of the ISU Corn and Soybean Initiative and ISU’s Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program. “Because of its collaborative nature, the site has the potential to become a dynamic virtual community.”

Pests currently being tracked on the site include black cutworm, western bean cutworm and the brown marmorated stink bug, an invasive pest first found in Iowa in February. 

Mueller said that access to a single clearinghouse of pest-related maps and predictive models will help growers target management decisions and make more informed IPM-based pesticide applications.

He added that, while the maps show pest movements within Iowa counties, the site should be of use to neighboring states. The system also is designed to be easily expanded.

“Anyone with a pest-related mapping project can request to add a map to the site,” Mueller said. “It doesn’t just have to be insects. The site could eventually become a portal for sharing information on weed distribution, soybean cyst nematodes and other issues of agronomic importance.” 

The North Central ipmPIPE website is similar to other national pest monitoring websites, such as Legume PIPE and Soybean Rust PIPE, but Mueller explained it differs in its regional focus. 

“We chose to name our website ‘PIPE,’ which stands for Pest Information Platform for Extension and Education, because people in the ag community are familiar with the concept and naming convention,” he said. “The national PIPE networks are cousins to our site, but we designed North Central ipmPIPE to give growers the ability to establish monitoring networks on a more local scale.”

Funding to develop the website was supplied through grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the North Central Integrated Pest Management Center.