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  • Author or Editor: Sue Nokes x
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Farmers' field trials conducted in western Kentucky counties in 1995 and 1996 showed that dramatic reductions in insecticide usage are possible using scouting and action thresholds. Five-acre plots were scouted and treated according to action thresholds while adjacent 5-acre plots were treated weekly with insecticides. Seven out of 10 insecticide sprays were eliminated, saving $65/acre for the 1995 season. There were no differences in yield, insect damage, or fruit quality between the scouted plots and the plots that were treated weekly. Assuming similar low pest populations in all 885 acres of the company's contracted fields, savings could have amounted to nearly $31,000 for 1995 after deducting scouting costs. There were no yield or quality differences from three test plots treated according to regularly scheduled applications and three plots treated according to action thresholds for insect pests and according to Tomcast predictions for fungal disease control in 1996. We have demonstrated the value of using Tomcast as an aid in making fungicide spray scheduling decisions for processing tomatoes in Kentucky. Although we were able to greatly simplify the Tomcast-CR10 datalogger interface program in 1996, there were still difficulties in getting information from the university-based computer to the company making spray applications. The company will be able to access the datalogger and obtain the information directly in 1997. The further analyses of “Skybit” satellite data collected in 1996 should also tell us whether this type of information might be used instead of a remote datalogger thus simplifying the process even further. We plan to build on the quick adoption of the Tomcast system and to make it sustainable by transferring “ownership” to the growers and processing company in 1997.

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