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Preparing North Dakota growers for soybean diseases: In-depth training for educators

Jessica Halvorson: North Dakota State University

<div>North Dakota soybean acreage has expanded from less than one million acres to over six million acres in the last two decades. Soybean cyst nematode (<em>Heterodera glycines</em>; SCN) was identified in 2003 and by 2009 was found in three counties. Sudden death syndrome (<em>Fusarium virguliforme</em>; SDS), although not yet confirmed in the state, occurs in close proximity in the bordering states of South Dakota and Minnesota. With little to no experience identifying or managing these two important diseases, North Dakota growers were left vulnerable to yield loss. To prepare for the expansion of soybean diseases in North Dakota, the North Dakota Extension service and North Dakota Soybean Council worked with experts from other states to develop in depth field trips/short courses to proactively educate ‘critical masses’ of agricultural specialists who serve as on-the-ground resources for growers. To monitor learning, pre- and post-tests were administered that asked participants several questions to rate their knowledge level regarding SCN and SDS and to rate the overall experience. In all instances, feedback showed a significant increase in knowledge with overwhelmingly positive comments about all events. As of 2016, SCN has been identified in 19 counties and SDS has not been confirmed. The benefit of having a ‘critical mass’ of agricultural specialists who can identify and manage these diseases will have a lasting impact on North Dakota’s agriculture.</div>