May 9, 2016
Clemson smartphone apps tackle fruit diseases, pests

Fruit growers can now fight insects and disease from the palm of their hands with technology developed at Clemson University.

Clemson University's MyIPM apps are available on on the Apple Store and Google Play. Screenshot: UMass, Amherst
Clemson University’s MyIPM apps are available on on the Apple Store and Google Play. Screenshot: UMass, Amherst

Initially tailored for peach and strawberry growers in the Southeast, the MyIPM smartphone app series created by Clemson plant pathologists Guido Schnabel and Meng-Jun Hu in collaboration with computer scientists Greg Edison and Roy Pargas has been expanded through a collaboration with scientists from Cornell University, the University of Massachusetts, Penn State University, the North Carolina State University, and the University of Georgia.

Two new MyIPM (Integrated Pest Management) apps now have information on dozens of diseases that attack peaches, blueberries and strawberries (MyIPM-SED) as well as apples, pears, cherries, cranberries and blueberries (MyIPM-NED), with tips on identifying and managing crop-threatening diseases and instructions for growers to manage resistance and to submit pathogen samples for resistance profiling. A third app, MyIPM-SEP, features advanced blueberry pest control solutions and soon will feature the same for strawberry and peach.

“With the apps, growers can reference high-resolution images to help diagnose disease or identify pests,” Schnabel said. “Audio files with university scientists outline treatment and prevention options. Interactive tables outline effective chemical or organic control options, with research-based efficacy and toxicity profiles on dozens of commercial products. Information on the causal organisms, disease cycles, symptoms, biology, chemical and non-chemical control options, as well as pesticide resistance management are also covered.”

The three MyIPM apps are available on the Apple Store and Google Play. The NED version covers fruit crops preferentially grown in the northern United States, the SED and SEP versions cover crops preferentially grown in the southern United States. The apps have active users in the United States, Canada, Mexico, India, Brazil, Australia, Morocco, and other countries.

“It is important that the app is available free to all growers so they have access to this information regardless of the resources they may have to invest in new technology,” Schnabel said.

The MyIPM app is the only app of it’s kind, said University of Georgia pathologist Phil Brannen, who collaborated with Schnabel on the project.

“Some of things we produce, which are really good resources, are more designed for the Web and viewing on a computer screen. With this app and the photos and the identification tools that we have, it’s a readily available resource they can pull out of their pocket if they’re in the field,” Brannen said. “If they do identify a disease or an organism causing a disease, they’ll have treatment options at their fingertips, immediately.”

Erika Saalau Rojas, an Extension plant pathologist at the University of Massachussetts Cranberry Station, said a mobile-diagnostic tool for growers had not been available in her state before MyIPM.

“What’s amazing about this app is that it’s very user-friendly,” she said. “Having the ability to view high-resolution pictures and being able to tell symptoms and signs, really streamlines the process of diagnostics.”

The MyIPM series is maintained at the Southern IPM Center, University of Georgia in Tifton, GA and the back-end database with its authoring tool allows regional experts to update information at any time, making the apps easy to keep up with the newest information as science evolves.

University of Massachusetts Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment

Source: University of Massachusetts, Amherst

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