May 27, 2008

Since 1997, members of six departments within the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture have pulled together and pooled their respective knowledge to assist the state’s wheat producers.

This unique group works to improve the efficiency and economics of wheat production. These efforts have paid off in such areas as improved yields and a higher percentage of no-till production. Their efforts have been noticed by producers, crop consultants and colleagues with the latest recognition coming from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Southern Region Integrated Pest Management Center.

The wheat group received the IPM Center’s “Pulling Together” award following its annual field day on May 20. This award recognizes success by a group in any aspect of developing, promoting, teaching, and implementing integrated pest management. Integrated pest management is an approach to managing risks associated with pests and pest management that optimizes economic, environmental and social benefits.

The unique relationship among so many varied departments set the Wheat Science Group apart from other group nominations for the award, said Rosemary Hallberg, communications specialist for the center.

Scott Smith, dean of the UK College of Agriculture, presented the award. Smith was chair of the agronomy department when the Wheat Science Group was formed and helped provide funding to get their efforts under way. Today, the group is self-supporting.

“The Wheat Science Group exemplifies what the college is all about – working collaboratively through research, extension and teaching to improve the lives of Kentucky’s residents,” Smith said.

The group consistently focuses on the importance of using scouting, thresholds and no-till in wheat production. They developed many of their research and education priorities in conjunction with the Kentucky Small Grain Growers Association, county agricultural extension agents, wheat consultants and agribusinesses.

Integrated pest management is an important aspect of the UK Wheat Science Group’s efforts, and over the years the IPM Center has been supportive of their efforts, said group member Doug Johnson, extension entomologist and UK IPM coordinator.

“There is a real melding of a lot of different things to move Kentucky forward in efficiency and economics,” Johnson said. “The key to our success is that we are all sold on a common goal.”

Departments represented in the Wheat Science Group include plant pathology, entomology, plant and soil sciences, biosystems and agricultural engineering, agricultural economics, and agricultural communications.

The Southern Region IPM Center works with USDA, land grant universities and other partners in promoting and facilitating the development and implementation of integrated pest management in many settings across the region.

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