Developing a Plant Clinic Database as an Educational and Predictive Tool for Master Gardener Programs

in HortTechnology

The North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service's New Hanover County Center provides the Plant Disease and Insect Clinic staffed by the Horticulture Extension Agent and Master Gardener volunteers. Residents bring in samples of weeds, diseases, and insects for identification and control recommendations. After the problem is diagnosed, a record of the information is used to construct a database that includes the date, phone number, crop, diagnosis, and control for each sample submitted. Between January 1993 and December 1999, Master Gardener volunteers entered more than 4,000 entries into a searchable/sortable electronic database to identify patterns of plant disorders. The database should be a useful tool for predicting local disease and insect cycles and aiding Master Gardeners in answering questions at the clinic and over the telephone. In addition, examination of historical records and entry of data into the database are excellent learning opportunities for new Master Gardeners.

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