A strong foundation of collaboration
Field Crop Pathologist Albert Tenuta has built strong working relationships across Canada and internationally over his 25 years of working at OMAFRA. Albert's networks have opened up collaborative business opportunities for Ontario's soybean industry. Albert has always been keenly aware of global opportunities and works to ensure that Ontario growers are aware of sector trends and opportunities that can benefit their businesses.
Since 2014, Albert has worked with the Crop Protection Network (CPN), a regional network of land grant universities in the United States (US) and OMAFRA, which serves as the infrastructure for collaboratively creating crop pathology resources for the soybean industries in Ontario and the North Central States. Canada ranks as one of the major soybean producing countries, with a global reputation for both high quality and high yields. Unfortunately, yields in many of the major soybean countries, including Canada (especially Ontario), are reduced each year due to diseases, resulting in unnecessary losses to the producer and agriculture sector as a whole. The most recent published disease losses for Canada (2006) are 363,000 metric tonnes (13,338,072 bushels) at a potential conservative cost of more than $154,855,015 (Cash Price - $11.61 December 4, 2015) (Wrather et al, 2010, Plant Health Progress).
Working together to combat soybean disease
Albert is the only Canadian on the CPN team. He saw the CPN as a forum to collaborate with extension experts outside of Ontario to create a strong, unified message about soybean disease management. The CPN was created to provide unbiased, research-based information to farmers and agricultural personnel on how to combat emerging field crop disease problems in their fields. This project has been funded through the Grain Farmers of Ontario (GFO) and the North Central Soybean Research Program (NCSRP). The NCSRP program has funded the project at $58,000 per year in 2014, 2015 and 2016. Grain Farmers of Ontario (GFO) has provided $10,000 per year for Ontario's involvement. Without Albert's involvement with the CPN, the information produced by the team would not have been applicable to Ontario growers, and Ontario would have missed this opportunity to be part of a strong brand. Albert's partnership with US colleagues and his long history of working with the GFO and the NCSRP led to Ontario's participation in this project.
Creating resources to meet the sector's needs
Through the CPN, high quality, innovative extension tools and materials have been created and distributed in order to meet industry needs and reduce farmer risk and economic losses associated with soybean diseases. The group has developed extension material for new and emerging (endemic) diseases for Ontario and the North Central US, and provided this information at multiple levels of extension interface (print, web, video, smartphone, GFO magazine, etc.) to reach diverse groups of stakeholders. To date, the CPN has created 21 publications in the Soybean Disease Management Series and six scouting cards. These tools can be easily updated to incorporate the latest research findings so management recommendations are current and relevant to producers. The CPN website (www.cropprotectionnetwork.org) features all the products produced to date. These materials are also available on the GFO website (www.gfo.ca/production/production-resources). To date, over 119,400 copies of the CPN publications have been printed and there have been nearly 11,500 PDF downloads.
The CPN has focused its efforts on providing a consistent approach to disease management for Ontario and Northern US soybean producers, through a trusted, branded source. A CPN logo was created to emphasize the strength of the expertise that is behind the group's Extension outputs. The goal of the CPN was to create one voice and one message for soybean disease management. Without the collaboration between the US and Ontario, the number of resources produced and the reach of those resources would not have been possible. This infrastructure has made collaborative outputs easier to brand and created a network of specialists who support each other in their efforts to enact the core mission of the land grant institutions and OMAFRA, which is to provide research-based education to the public sector. The success of this model has not gone unnoticed, as in November 2015 the group's publications were recognized by the American Society of Agronomy with the 2015 Extension Education Community Education Materials Award.
In addition to creating a stronger soybean industry, the CPN created a five-part corn ear mould and mycotoxin series in 2016, which was used by OMAFRA this fall to aid with elevated mycotoxin levels in the 2016 Ontario corn crop. The CPN will continue to create and share resources with the sector, which will support disease management for field crops in North America.
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