The Roundup -

IPM Crop Scout Program at Williston Research Extension Center


August 16, 2017 | View PDF

Grace Dragseth, crop scout at Williston Research Extension Center, checks the growth stage of Spring Wheat.

For the past 19 years, North Dakota State University has sustained an active Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Crop Scout Program. This has been made possible through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Crop Protection and Pest Management Competitive Program.

In 1998, the NDSU IPM Survey only scouted for diseases of wheat in the southeastern part of North Dakota. Now, the IPM Survey has broadened its scouting efforts to all parts of the state and includes insect pests and diseases of four major field crops grown in North Dakota.

The IPM program manages pests by combining a number of strategies to efficiently maintain crop profitability, decrease pest populations, and minimize environmental and health impacts. It encourages producers and crop consultants to use forecasting models for diseases and to scout and determine if fields are at economic threshold levels for insect pests. The main goal of an IPM crop scout is to improve crop quality, reduce crop loss and pest resistance, and increase partnerships among growers.

IPM crop scouts go through many steps to ensure they retrieve correct and accurate information. They frequently monitor fields in several locations to determine pest identification, incidence, and severity. Crop scouts also use insect traps to determine presence and occurrence of particular pests. They provide researchers up-to-date information on pest problems on wheat, barley, soybeans, and sunflowers. The field data collected helps researchers prioritize their extension and research activities as well as alert producers, crop consultants, scouts, and the agronomy center about critical pest outbreaks. "The IPM Survey has served as an important mentoring tool for educating young agriculturists about IPM. These scouts have a solid background in IPM and some will become our next generation of scientists working on new and innovative IPM strategies," said Dr. Janet Knodel, Extension Entomologist and Associate Professor at North Dakota State University.

The data retrieved from the crop scouts are used for determining the prevalence of different diseases and insect pests of durum, wheat, soybeans, barley, and sunflowers so that growers can use this information to assess their risk. "This year we were able to identify high populations of Sunflower Moths in Burke County. Through the IPM program, I have also confirmed Wheat Streak Mosaic Virus in a grower's field," explained Dr. Audrey Kalil, Plant Pathologist at the NDSU Williston Extension Research Center.

The IPM program helps inform Dr. Kalil's research by determining what diseases are most problematic and poorly controlled in the northwest part of North Dakota. It also builds a database of disease severity and incidence data that can be used in future research. It also helps Dr. Kalil determine what diseases or pests are not typically problematic. In the long run, it can help the growers save money by not treating their crop with unnecessary pesticide applications.

Dragseth checks a bucket trap for pests.

Growers can use the information obtained by the researchers and crop scouts. "The data generated from field scouting is used to produce Esri ArcGIS maps for each pest by crop. These maps provide near real-time data and are posted weekly on the NDSU IPM website for stakeholder viewing. IPM Survey data are used extensively in weekly state and local county pest alerts, NDSU Crop & Pest Report articles and other agricultural newsletters and in AgDakota, a statewide electronic mail list. The data alerts stakeholders of pest presence and status, and published reports and articles improve stakeholders' understanding and implementation of pest identification, scouting, use of economic thresholds and decision-making using IPM strategies," said Dr. Knodel.

The crop scout at the NDSU Williston Research Extension Center surveys fields in McKenzie, Williams, Burke, Mountrail, and Divide County. "The program allows me to build relationships with growers so that they know they can come to me with issues and questions," said Dr. Kalil. If your field has been scouted, you can view the results on the IPM website at The program will end around mid-August, but will start up again in the spring.


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