Virginia Ag Pest Advisory gets a face-lift

Screenshot of the Virginia Ag Pest Advisory WordPress blog.

Screenshot of the new advisory format.

The Virginia Ag Pest Advisory system has been delivering time-sensitive crop pest updates to Virginia farmers and agriculture industry representatives for more than 15 years. Prior to the advent of the advisory, information was primarily being sent to growers via newsletters, which was not very efficient. For the information to be helpful, the user needs to receive it as quickly as possible.

Under the guidance of Ron Stinner, who at that time was director of the Southern Region IPM Center in Raleigh, North Carolina, a system was developed whereby our Virginia Tech/Virginia Cooperative Extension entomologists, plant pathologists, and weed scientists created short updates during the week. All of the updates were collected, and the list was emailed once a week to more than 350 growers, agricultural industry representatives, Extension agents, and other faculty members across the state and region. The updates were tagged by author, short title, pest group (insects, weeds, or diseases), and commodity (potatoes, cotton, vegetables, peanuts, etc.) so the email recipients could select only those updates that were most relevant to them.

Over the years, this advisory has provided subscribers with in-season, real-time pest alerts; pest survey results; the status of emerging and migrating pests; pesticide resistance issues; notifications of pesticide labeling changes; and reminders of economic thresholds, sampling procedures, and best management recommendations.

Many users have become accustomed to checking this advisory before beginning their week so they will be better prepared for whatever might be needed to protect their crop. Although a formal feedback assessment was never undertaken, if the advisory ever hit a glitch and failed to go out (which happened from time to time), the many emails and phone calls we got let us know how many folks had come to rely on the information. We have received many comments over the years about the value of our advisory, and the email recipient list continues to grow.

However, what was once cutting-edge now needs a face-lift. With the many advances in information technology, there are more efficient ways of delivering this information. The new and improved Virginia Ag Pest Advisory will still offer the same features of the old system — weekly email alerts, for example — but it will also allow users to subscribe to an RSS feed. Information will still be tagged by topics, commodities, and author, which will allow users to quickly find previously posted information. The new system will be much easier for authors to use as well. It will be simpler for them to post information, and it will allow for more photos and other media, such as videos. Each advisory will also have a unique website URL to make bookmarking and sharing easier.

If you are a current user, you will automatically begin receiving the new Virginia Ag Pest Advisory. If you are not currently receiving the advisory and would like to, visit the Ag Pest Advisory website to subscribe to the weekly email or RSS feed. If you have any comments or suggestions about the new Virginia Ag Pest Advisory system, please contact Ames Herbert by email or call 757-657-6450.

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