A new study has been published by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach faculty and researchers, suggesting that Twitter can help map and identify the spread of pests and pathogens. “Scout, Snap, and Share: First Impressions of Plant Disease Monitoring Using Social Media” is now available online through the American Phytopathological Society and will be featured in Plant Disease, the society’s journal of applied plant pathology.
In the study, researchers examine the usefulness and feasibility of social media as a way to track disease and pest data. This is based on information shared among crop scouts, industry agronomists, and university extension across the U.S.
For the report, two Twitter accounts, @corndisease and @soydisease, were created to track the appearance of diseases in corn and soybean fields between 2016 and 2017. The participants in the study tweeted images of diseases they found, along with the state and county of observation under the respective Twitter accounts.
By the end of the experiment, experts were able to successfully track the movement of southern rust and give advanced notice for targeted crop scouting efforts.
“The use of Twitter to create a virtual and ongoing discussion and reporting location for diseases and pests can be a useful tool for integrated pest management,” said Daren Mueller, assistant professor and extension specialist in plant pathology and microbiology. “Through social media, we are able to connect stakeholders who are miles apart with information that could potentially preserve yields and encourage responsible crop and pest management.”
Funding for the study was provided by the United States Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture through the Integrated Pest Information Platform for Extension and Education Cooperative Agricultural Project.