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Improved tracking of agricultural pests and crop growth     Send a link to a friend

[MARCH 10, 2004]  URBANA -- The agricultural community in Illinois now has a new Internet tool using daily degree-day totals to track growth cycles of agricultural pests and Illinois crops. Daily weather data and pest information are combined to generate Web pages that show current degree-day totals in Illinois associated with pests and crop development.

This is a collaborative effort between scientists from the Illinois State Water Survey, a division of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, and the Integrated Pest Management Program of the Department of Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois.

"Growth of pests and crops in Illinois can be tracked and projected by maintaining an account of the ‘heat’ accumulated during each growing season," said meteorologist Bob Scott of the Illinois State Water Survey. "This process involves comparison of daily maximum and minimum temperatures to a base temperature, specific for a particular pest or crop, above which development of the pest or crop will occur."

Computer algorithms were developed for tracking 30 agricultural pests and also for determining growing degree-day totals for corn and cold weather crops.

Degree-day accumulations for some pests, regardless of their location in Illinois, have a specific calendar day when heat tracking begins, such as Jan. 1 each year. Local accumulations for other pests and for crops are tied to specific, user-provided events, such as first spring trapping of adult pests, sighting of insect eggs and planting dates.


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One- and two-week degree-day projections, based on climate records at each site, are included. The tool also produces maps of degree-day totals and projections for the entire state where appropriate.

"This information is computed from data collected at 19 weather sites across Illinois and is specific for those locations," said Scott.

"These data are valuable in helping users determine when to monitor their fields for approaching stages of pest development and with the subsequent operational decisions that follow," added Kelly Cook, entomologist with the Integrated Pest Management Program at the University of Illinois.

All degree-day information is computed from data collected through the day just prior to when each user accesses the system. In general, up-to-date information will be available by 4 a.m., seven days a week. The URLs are for "Agricultural Data" and for "Insect Growth and Development" and the degree-day calculator.

[Illinois State Water Survey news release]


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