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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Getting the Edge Over Insects and Diseases with Training Program

January 23, 2008

ADA, Ohio -- A plant pathology and entomology training program is giving farmers, crop consultants and others in the agriculture industry a more refined eye in recognizing diseases and pests.


First Detector Training, part of the National Plant Diagnostic Network, promotes awareness and early detection of exotic and newly emerging plant diseases and pests in the field through enhanced diagnostics and education.

"It's an extension of already established training and education in recognizing problems associated with familiar crop diseases and pests," said Nancy Taylor, director of Ohio State University's C. Wayne Ellett Plant and Pest Diagnostic Clinic. The clinic is located on Ohio State University's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences campus in Columbus.

"Training Extension educators and other individuals to identify diseases and pests and recognize crop problems associated with them is nothing new. This training program just adds a new dimension to providing individuals with the tools needed for early detection of exotic pests, or those deemed a high risk or economic threat to agriculture," said Taylor.

Taylor and her colleague Barbara Bloetscher will offer the First Detector Training program at the Conservation Tillage and Technology Conference in February. The session is free with conference registration, but participants are encouraged to sign up in advance by logging on to Interested individuals can also register onsite. The Conservation Tillage and Technology Conference will be held Feb. 21-22 at the McIntosh Center at Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio.

"First Detector Training is just a piece of overall disease and pest awareness and education," said Bloetscher, an Ohio State University Extension entomologist. "The program teaches people what is normal or common in the field, so they can recognize when something is out of the ordinary. From there, the program helps them to figure out what to do next or who to call if something new or suspicious is detected."

First Detector Training during the Conservation Tillage and Technology Conference will be held on Feb. 21 from 1:15 p.m. until 4:35 p.m. It will consist of the following sessions: the mission of the National Plant Diagnostic Network; monitoring for high-risk pests; quality and secure sample submission; art and science of diagnosis of pathogens; art and science of diagnosis of arthropods; and digitally assisted diagnosis.

OSU Extension experts presenting the First Detector sessions include Dennis Mills, an Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center plant pathologist; Jim Jasinski, OSU Extension educator with the OSU Extension Center at Lima; and Curtis Young, OSU Extension educator in Allen County.

The training is open to anyone interested in the program. Those who complete the training become Certified First Detectors, and have the opportunity to receive the national NPDN First Detector newsletter, as well as pest alerts via e-mail through the National First Detector registry. Participants will also receive three hours of Certified Crop Advisor credits.

For more information on the First Detector Program, visit the North Central Region National Plant Diagnostic Network Web site at

For more information on the Conservation Tillage and Technology Conference, log on to, or contact Randall Reeder, OSU Extension conservation tillage specialist, at (614) 292-6648 or

The conference, which attracts participants from Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania, provides the latest in university research and industry information on topics related to no-till and conservation tillage. This year's event covers nutrient management, soil and water, economics, soil fertility, precision agriculture, ethanol, and cover crops.

Candace Pollock
Barb Bloetscher, Nancy Taylor