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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


New Network to Protect Crops, Forests, Food Supply

June 24, 2009

REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio -- A new partnership announced June 24 between Ohio State University and the Ohio Department of Agriculture will enhance the protection of Ohio's crops, forests and food supply.


Bobby D. Moser, Ohio State's associate vice president for agricultural administration and dean for the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, joined ODA director Bob Boggs in announcing the establishment of the Ohio Plant Diagnostic Network. The announcement was made in conjunction with the dedication of a new Plant Industry Building in Reynoldsburg, in which the Ohio Plant Diagnostic Network will be housed.

The Ohio Plant Diagnostic Network will be a part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Plant Diagnostic Network, and brings together all labs within ODA, Ohio State University Extension, the Ohio Agricultural, Research, and Development Center, and outreach facilities in Ohio counties, that conduct diagnostic work.

"The network provides a quick detection, response and recovery approach to high-consequence disease or pest outbreaks so that crops, forest products and our food supply can be protected," said Moser. Recent examples of high-consequence disease or pest include emerald ash borer, Asian soybean rust and sudden oak death.

"The new Plant Industry Building, with its high-quality laboratory and diagnostic space, and the spirit of cooperation between ODA and the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences make this an ideal time to launch the Ohio Plant Diagnostic Network," said Mike Boehm, chair of Ohio State's Department of Plant Pathology.

The OPDN will link plant health specialists and diagnosticians from throughout Ohio, including from the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, ODA, and Ohio State. The partnership expands and enhances services within the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, such as the C. Wayne Ellett Plant and Pest Diagnostic Clinic.

Nancy Taylor, director of the C. Wayne Ellett Plant and Pest Diagnostic Clinic, said that the new partnership will continue to promote OSU Extension's outreach efforts in plant pest diagnostics and strengthen the diagnostic skills of Extension educators.

"The collaboration opens the doors to state and federal specialists, facilities, and equipment we normally wouldn't have access to," said Taylor.

Barb Bloetscher, an OSU Extension entomologist, said the OPDN will increase the turnaround time between pest and disease identification and control.

"Emerald ash borer had been out for 10 years before we were able to identify it," said Bloetscher, who will now split her time as an OSU Extension entomologist and the state entomologist with ODA, responsible for Ohio's vast apiary (bee) program . "Now with this new partnership, we will be able to identify the pest or disease as soon as it is spotted and be able to come up with quicker solutions to stopping it."

The new announcement between Ohio State University and ODA also improves existing partnerships, such as those with the OSU Extension Pesticide Safety Education Program.

"The continued partnership will allow us to expand our outreach to business agencies in Ohio that depend on that pesticide application certification to continue doing their jobs," said Joanne Kick-Raack, the program's state coordinator. "It helps us to be more efficient and effective and increases our role in providing educational materials, improving exams and expanding our online offerings."

ODA director Bob Boggs said that the new partnership brings together in one location state and federal regulators, research scientists and students.

"With this joining, Ohio will be on the cutting edge for other states to follow," he said.


Candace Pollock
Barb Bloetscher, Joanne Kick-Raack, Mike Boehm, Nancy Taylor