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Information on three new agricultural pests enhances web tool for farmers

Eva Kingston, State Water Survey


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Three more pests – fruit tree leafroller, lilac borer and western bean cutworm – have been added this spring to the Illinois State Water Survey’s Water and Atmospheric Resources Monitoring program, a Web-based tool that provides helpful information for the state’s farmers.

WARM, created in the late 1980s, helps the agricultural community monitor the impacts and benefits derived from real-time weather conditions across Illinois. The system makes use of several pre-existing statewide data-collection efforts at the water survey, a division of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Much of the data is available on the Web. WARM provides daily updated weather information and soil temperatures at various depths from 19 automated climate stations operated by the survey. Bi-weekly observations of soil-moisture conditions, collected across the state since 1981, were added in 2002.

Last year, the water survey teamed with the Integrated Pest Management group in the department of crop sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, to add a degree-day calculator that allows users to track and project growth cycles of 30 agricultural pests. Users of the calculator also can monitor growing degree-days for corn and cold weather crops.

Degree-day accumulations for some pests, regardless of location in Illinois, have a specific calendar day, or biofix date, when heat tracking begins, such as Jan. 1 each year. Accumulations for other pests are tied to specific user-provided events: first spring trapping of adult pests, sight of insect eggs, etc. The program then generates expected growth rates and provides information on potential impacts from that day forward as degree-day thresholds for the pest are reached.

Another option allows users to track their fields’ crop growing degree-day accumulations by entering a planting date. Just a click away are maps of current weather information and soil temperatures under both bare soil and sod surfaces at the weather stations, monthly issues of the “Illinois Water and Climate Summary” and other current and historical data from various ISWS water and atmospheric resources networks.