My Take on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

by Michael Smart, Professional Golf Management major

Throughout the past four months, I have been exposed to what Genetically Modified Organisms (G.M.O.’s) are and how they work. My views on G.M.O.’s and Genetically Modified (G.M.) crops have greatly changed in that span of time. I was like much of the public in my opinion on what G.M.O.’s were and how they affected me. If you would have asked me what G.M.O.’s and G.M. crops were I would have said something along the lines of, “I’m not really sure what they are, but I know they are not good for me to eat!”

Now, my mind has been opened up and I have had a change of heart. Seeing just how beneficial G.M.O.’s and G.M. crops are, I can say that I support them now. G.M. crops are more environmentally friendly because they do not require the use of very many pesticides. Also, these crops yield produce that has the same nutritious value as that of conventional or “organic” crops.

Finally, I see a very promising future for G.M.O.’s and G.M. crops. With an ever-growing population and more mouths to feed, G.M.O.’s may be the only answer we have.  In my opinion, we need to better educate the public on G.M.O.’s and G.M. crops. Many people just do not know what G.M.O.’s and G.M. crops are. I believe if they had the knowledge, a lot of people would end up having the change of heart that I did.

More information
OSU Extension Fact Sheet
> The Impact on Human Health of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in Foods

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This blog post was an assignment for Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.

The Destructive Micro Worm

by Gary Klopfenstein, Sustainable Plant Systems major

The soybean cyst nematode is a destructive invasive species that damages soybean production, making proper management of the agricultural production ground vital for protection against this yield-reducing pest. In 1954 nematodes were first reported in the United States. In 2005-2008 it was estimated that soybean cyst nematodes (SCN) account for > 300 million bushels lost and farmers can have fields with up to 40% damage due to SCN (Soybean Cyst Nematode Management Guide).

This disease is a deadly pathogen that is very important to the United States agriculture industry. It has been in the United States for 61 years and in that amount of time it has spread across the country. It is now in more than 20 states and is continuing to spread (SCN expands range in Ohio).

Proper management is important in agriculture and at times the effort might be considered a burden or takes too much additional time. That mentality being the case,  the correct management is ignored until there is a massive problem. When it comes to the agriculture industry, after having Roundup Ready to take care of all their weed issues, it was simple to just spray a chemical and watch the weeds die and the yield rise. This is not the case when dealing with SCN, there is no cheap chemical that will kill them.

The first step is pulling a soil sample after soybean harvest, send the samples to the lab to see how many nematodes and cysts are in the samples. > More on sampling

Once the SCN are confirmed in a field, it is the farmer’s job to monitor the populations by doing yearly soil sample tests. Crop rotation is critical to slowing down the rate of growth in areas of SCN inhabitance. Understanding that they can live off of legume plants, planting the right cover crops in the fall is a great idea for soil structure. A successful management plan of planting one to two years of planting non-host plants will lessen the SCN populations because the nematodes are an obligate parasite and need host root hairs to survive. There are also genetic soybean cultivars that are resistant to SCN and can prevent the yield from being destroyed.

Davis, E.L. and Tylka, G.L. Soybean cyst nematode disease

Dorrance A, Sundermeier A, Harrison K, Niblack T.  > Cover Crops and Soybean Cyst Nematode.  C.O.R.N. Newsletter

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This blog post was an assignment for Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.

Sick Plant! What to do?

by Sin Joe Ng, BS Sustainable Plant Systems BS graduate

There is a sick tree in Grandma’s backyard. Based on what I learned from class, I told Grandma there are several ways to diagnose the sick tree. She can send a sample to either private or university-based diagnostic laboratories or she can give a call to an Extension office, Master Gardener program or even use a diagnostic clinic app.

After receiving the sample, plant diagnosticians begin to examine the sample, identify the disease, determine the cause, and provide recommendation to manage the disease. The following are some of the key steps to diagnose the problem:

1) Identify what the plant is and know the appearance of the healthy plant,

2) Determine whether the problem is caused by abiotic (e.g., nutritional problems) or biotic (pathogens/pests),

3) Look into resources to gain more information about the possible disorder,

4) Ask the requester questions to obtain sufficient information about the problem,

5) Evaluate the environment and cultural practices that were applied to the plant,

6) Observe and examine the symptoms and signs,

7) Perform laboratory testing for further examination, like using microscope, ELISA, PCR, Koch’s postulates, etc.

8) Compile all results and provide the final diagnosis.

I find this topic interesting because I realize that disease diagnostics is tough since many different aspects have to take into consideration. I hope everyone would have some basic knowledge about how to diagnose the plant problem or at least know who to look for help, and more importantly have a healthier plant.

More Info

> C. Wayne Ellett Plant and Pest Diagnostic Network

> 20 Questions on Plant Diagnosis

> National Plant Diagnostic Network

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This blog post was an assignment for Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.

FAA Approves Drones for Agricultural Uses (agweb.com)

by Blake Metzger, Agricultural Systems Management major

ADM Crop Risk Services states that the Federal Aviation Administration has approved the company to use drones in its business. They plan on using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs )to review crop damage claims. Greg Mills, who is the president of ADM Crop Risk Services claims that the use of drones are expected to help speed the claims process.

The FAA approved the use of agricultural drones in agriculture in January and has been reworking its UAV policies. Sometime in April they announced that it would be taking a more “flexible regulatory approach to accommodate this rapidly evolving technology.”  From this the FAA has approved 120 “Section 333” exemptions for UAV use which includes 22 for agricultural uses.

With these the FAA also made two other provisions to the Section 333 exemption process earlier this year:

•    People who hold a recreational or sport pilot certificate. Previously, Section 333 operators were required to have at least a private pilot certificate. The newly added certificates are easier to obtain, and therefore less costly, than a private pilot certificate.
•    No longer require a third class medical.  Now operator only needs a valid driver’s license to satisfy the medical requirement.  This change is consistent with the agency’s approach for sport pilot certificate holders, who may fly light sport aircraft with a driver’s license and no FAA medical certificate.

The FAA’s reviewing of the Section 333 petitions shows they generally fall into two categories: film/television production and aerial data collection, with most exemptions to be likely handled through the summary grant process.

Read more
FAA Approves Drones for ADM Crop Risk Services, Other Firms by Alison Rice, agweb.com

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This blog post was an assignment for Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.

Beet Curly Top and Beet Leafhopper

beet leafhopper

A.C. Magyarosy, Bugwood.org

by Emily Herring, Sustainable Plant Systems major

Among crops grown in the U.S., most crops infected with pests and diseases you hear about in Ohio are corn, soybeans, wheat, the usual, but now there is  a disease  of sugar beets that has been coming back around.

Beet curly top virus (BCTV) of sugar beets is to be among “the first plant viral diseases, along with the tobacco mosaic virus, recognized in the late nineteenth century”, according to APS.net, The American Phytopathological Society, leading the plant pathology online world. It has said to be one of the worst diseases of field crops in America today for beets.

Beet curly top is transmitted by a vector, the beet leafhopper, which can transmit the virus to multiple plants, causing an economic problem for the industry. Once the virus infects the plant, it can devastate the plant through the vascular system and later into the phloem.

Young plants can die quickly from this, while more mature plants show yellowing on the leaves, also called chlorosis, as well as necrosis, which is dead tissue on a plant. It has also been documented to show small galls on the underside of the leaves, blisters and rolling healthy leaves, while as the fruit or roots become discolored.

Unfortunately, there have been three different strains found of the virus by analyzing the DNA sequences. This can have a huge economic impact on our sugar beet crop as this virus spreads too quickly. Scientists are and have been working on varieties that are resistant this virus.

For more information
Beet Curly Top: America’s First Serious Disease of Sugar Beets

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This blog post was an assignment for Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.