Utah Pests News Winter 2007-08

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"First Detector Training" and "Distance Diagnostics in Utah" Programs are Off and Running

This Fall marked the beginning of two new programs offered through the Utah Pests group of Extension Specialists Diane Alston, Kent Evans, and Erin Hodgson, in association with the Utah Plant Pest Diagnostic Lab’s (UPPDL) Arthropod Diagnostician, Ryan Davis. Both programs are interrelated but are different in their emphases.

First Detector Training

First Detector Training is a national program that trains individuals in agricultural industries and state agencies to recognize and report recent pest introductions to ensure the security of our food and environment. First Detector Training (FDT) was conducted in Utah this past October at the Kaysville Botanical Center’s Utah House. Dick Hoenisch was the invited speaker from the University of California at Davis, representing the offices of the Western Plant Diagnostic Network (WPDN). Other speakers included Specialists Diane Alston, Erin Hodgson, and Kent Evans. Dick presented modules of FDT regarding general, and some specific, issues in the WPDN. The WPDN is one of five regional divisions of the National Plant Diagnostic Network which is part of the USDA/APHIS Homeland Security Department. There were 26 Extension agents and Master Gardeners in attendance representing most of Utah’s counties. The training was a success and participants received a certificate of completion for First Detector Training. Future programs of FDT will be arranged through the county Master Gardener programs. Please contact Kent Evans for details of future training and collaborative program development that can be tailored to fit our state’s programs.

Distance Diagnostics in Utah

USU County Agriculture Agent Matt Palmer learns about DDIU.
Sometimes it isn’t the big picture that counts most but more importantly it is the unseen details. This past October saw the beginning of the Distance Diagnostics in Utah (DDIU) program. DDIU is a new program where digital dissecting microscopes were disseminated among 12 Utah counties as a new Extension program to facilitate rapid diagnostics for plant pests. Counties receiving the scopes were selected based on agricultural productivity, populace, and equipment need. The scopes are capable of digital imagery to 3-megapixel resolution and magnifications from 8-35x. The scopes are also capable of being attached to digital projectors or computers for presentations to larger groups, such as 4-H and Master Gardeners, and for training programs that can be initiated at the county level.

Beyond diagnoses, there is much room for creative application with the new scopes, ranging from simple imaging for clientele to developing publications from the images these scopes can generate. The scopes also come with a software program with a suite of options that facilitate image processing (color, lighting, and sharpening), on-screen measurements, and image time stamping. Images can be transmitted via e-mail attachment(s) to interact with the Arthropod and Plant Disease Diagnosticians at the USU campus or national diagnostic networks as well. The continuing emphasis of the program will be to acquire two additional scopes annually for dissemination to the remaining Utah counties until the state is covered with DDIU capabilities. Annual and regional trainings will be part of the Utah Pests and UPPDL groups’ programming each season. The future looks bright for this newer technology and how County Extension offices will be able to interact with the Utah Plant Pest Diagnostic Laboratory and local clientele.

-Kent Evans, Extension Plant Pathologist