Douglas J. Jardine was born in Rantoul, Illinois, and raised in Warren, Michigan. He received a B.S. degree in 1976 and a M.S. degree in horticulture in 1977 from Michigan State University. After working for nearly 5 years for Michigan State University Extension as a 4-H youth agent and an agriculture agent, he returned to school and earned a Ph.D. degree in plant pathology in 1985. He immediately joined the faculty of Kansas State University’s Department of Plant Pathology as an assistant professor, rising to the rank of professor in 1999. He has served as the department’s extension state program leader since 1989.
Jardine has developed a nationally recognized extension program with an emphasis on row crop pathology—grain sorghum, sunflowers, soybeans, and corn—and he is an excellent diagnostician. Kansas producers recognize his ability to take technical information and, as one wrote, “He explains it in a way that I can understand.” Jardine is both an extension professional and a plant pathologist, as evidenced by his receipt of the Kansas Friend of the County Agent Award, the Alpha Rho Chapter of Epsilon Sigma Phi’s State Meritorious Service Award, and the Gamma Sigma Delta Excellence in Extension Award. In 2005, following the introduction of soybean rust to the United States, he chaired the steering committee that developed the Plant Management Network’s Soybean Rust Resource Center website, which provided a one-stop location for information on soybean rust. He was an active part of the Soybean Rust–Pest Information Platform for Extension and Education (PIPE) team that received the International IPM Award of Excellence at the 7th International IPM Symposium and of the NCERA208 Committee “Response to Emerging Threat: Soybean Rust” that received the ESCOP Science and Technology Committee’s 2012 National Multistate Research Award for Excellence. He has made more than 1,000 extension presentations and has published more than 160 refereed publications, technical reports, and extension bulletins.
Jardine’s research has centered on the evaluation and use of seed treatments on row crops. In the early 1990s, while searching for more effective treatments for Fusarium seedling blight of grain sorghum, a disease that frequently necessitated the replanting of sorghum fields due to poor stand establishment, he identified Pythium as another major cause of seedling blight. Through his educational efforts, growers became so insistent that seed companies provide metalaxyl-treated seed that, by 1995, all commercially traded sorghum seed was treated with metalaxyl. Jardine’s work on Fusarium seedling blight identified the use of the herbicide alachlor and low soil pH as predisposing agents of the disease. Research on sooty stripe, caused by the fungus Ramulispora sorghi, established it as a major yield-limiting disease with losses of up to 35% occurring with susceptible hybrids. He also confirmed the host preferences of F. thapsinum for sorghum and F. verticillioides to corn and that fumonisins do not appear to play a significant role in pathogenesis.
The economic impact of Jardine’s research and extension program on just Kansas farmers is enormous. His unbiased advice to corn and soybean growers about when/if fungicides should be sprayed to control foliar diseases is saving these farmers some $150 million annually and keeping thousands of gallons of unnecessary fungicides out of fields and ground water. He has given similar tempered advice on the routine use of fungicides to control soybean rust, which he correctly predicted would only rarely be serious in Kansas due to its hot, dry climate. By spraying only in exceptional cases, Kansas soybean farmers have kept $8–10 million in their pockets instead of paying for fungicide treatments that would add little, if anything, to their bottom lines. This track record should not, however, be interpreted to mean that Jardine is antifungicide.
Jardine’s efforts with grain sorghum completely changed the industry’s approach to the pretreatment of seed and have reduced sharply the problems of stand establishment that used to cost growers time, money, and yield. Similar efforts to encourage fungicide pretreatment of soybean seeds has approximately 90% of Kansas farmers using treated seed, which can yield up to 2.5 bushels more per acre and add an additional $75–85 million to the farmers income per year. Collectively, the economic impact of Jardine’s advice is worth around a billion dollars every 4 years.
Jardine’s most significant contributions to plant pathology may have come in his service to APS. He has demonstrated his commitment through continuous involvement in APS activities at local, regional, and national levels. He served as secretary/treasurer and counselor for the North Central Division, and in 2006 was given the division’s Distinguished Service Award. He served as the secretary of APS at the national level from 1998 to 2001. In 2003, he became director of the APS Office of Public Affairs and Education (OPAE). Working with the board, OPAE’s mission was reevaluated, the board’s makeup was reorganized, its mission was changed from public policy to outreach, and its name was changed to the Office of Public Relations and Outreach (OPRO). He then served as the OPRO director for 6 years. In January 2010, he became editor-in-chief of Phytopathology News for which he writes a monthly column. Additionally, he has served as past chair of both the APS Archives Committee and the Youth Committee, as well as a member of several presidentially appointed ad hoc committees.
Douglas Jardine’s commitment to APS comes from the heart—from his love of APS and his commitment to the value of our field in improving economic and physical health across our society. His passionate pursuit of the best things for us and our society exemplify his commitment through extension of sharing information with others and improving the lives and livelihoods of all who live in Kansas and in the country. Jardine is an example of a great plant pathologist who has his derived his greatness not just through research but by making all of us look better through the sharing of our research with the general public and enabling plant pathology to make an impact in their lives.