Canny Climatologist Codes his Way to Excellence in IPM Award

Media contact: Juliet E. Carroll | Office: 315-787-2430 |

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GENEVA NY, January 17, 2019: Keith Eggleston, a climatologist with the Northeast Regional Climate Center (NRCC) received an Excellence in Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Award from the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program (NYSIPM) at the Empire State Producers’ Expo in Syracuse. NYSIPM develops sustainable ways to manage pests and helps people to use methods that minimize environmental, health and economic risks. The award honors individuals who encourage the adoption of IPM in their businesses, schools, communities, and farms, and who develop new tools and tactics for sharing these practices.

Begun in 1995 by NYSIPM, the Network for Environment and Weather App’s (NEWA) delivers weather information from farm-based weather stations from Minnesota to New Hampshire to North Carolina, and feeds it into more than 40 pest forecasting and crop production tools. NEWA’s weather data summaries and IPM forecasts give farmers the best information to make scientifically based decisions about how to best manage pests. NEWA is highly valued by New York fruit and vegetable growers—largely thanks to Eggleston’s diligence and expertise.

How did Eggleston help? He wrote the code for the IPM forecast models on NEWA’s website, Successful? Yes! These IPM tools work so well that NEWA expanded from around 40 to over 600 weather stations and from one state to 14. The pest forecasts help farmers in NY and other states predict when pests might strike and how severe that strike might be—saving them both from spraying and from losing sleep.

Dan Olmstead, NEWA Coordinator, notes that “Keith’s understanding of programming languages, weather, climate, and the NEWA users themselves serves as a foundation for our collaborative success.”

Eggleston’s colleagues admire his insights into the nuances of climate data, and his eternal vigilance regarding bug fixes, stalled models, and metadata rescue. They have referred to him as a ‘miracle worker’ and ‘tech guru’. Put more simply: Eggleston makes sure that users are happy and NEWA data and model outputs are of the highest quality.

Eggleston has a unique perspective on agriculture—his father was a Vocational Ag teacher and FFA Advisor; he himself a member of the agricultural fraternity, Alpha Zeta, at Cornell University. “I have always had an affinity for agriculture and have found it very satisfying to be able to help develop models that will be useful in the farming community,” he said.

Olmstead added, “Keith’s real strength comes from his endless patience, calm thinking, collaborative spirit, and tenacity—all of which creates synergy… NEWA continues to grow rapidly because the tools Keith built stand the test of time and end-user scrutiny.”

Art DeGaetano, director of the NRCC, characterized Eggleston as the glue that connects NEWA and NRCC. He said, “Among the scientists involved with NEWA, Keith is the trusted voice …concerning how a model should be implemented, the design of the model, or even the proper data to use, Keith’s respectful expertise is the catalyst for reaching common ground and achieving excellence.”

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The 2017 NEWA Survey: discussion and future directions

This is part five in a five-part blog series discussing 2017 NEWA survey results of users and non-users. Download the full report to learn more.

By Dan Olmstead and Julie Carroll

“I would suggest NEWA be a part of any subsidized agriculture. I would like to see the NEWA network as a standard tool of ag…”. – 2017 NEWA user

Survey participants self-identified as NEWA users were asked to share final comments regarding NEWA and ways the platform could be improved in the future. Of the 71 people responding to this question, 23 (32%) stated that NEWA was excellent and thanked us for NEWA. For detailed analysis, download the 2017 NEWA survey.

 Future directions

Results of the 2017 NEWA survey contain a trove of data and information. Final recommendations, based on this information include the following points of importance.

Education and promotion

  • At workshops and conferences, promote the high level of trust and reliability growers have in NEWA to categorize pest risk and provide IPM recommendations.
  • Raise awareness among growers that using NEWA can result in better spray timing, significant savings on spray bills, and improved crop protection.
  • A promotion and awareness campaign for NEWA vegetable models and extension education on how to use them is needed, because vegetable production is significant throughout NEWA’s region — however, reported usage is low.
  • A coordinated effort is needed to develop online educational resources for new and existing NEWA users that can be used independently and in workshops and presentations.
  • A well-executed awareness campaign can reach new audiences and should bring new users to NEWA resources, and encourage them to start using the platform.

Future development

  • To expand and enhance NEWA, focus on and recruit future development in the areas of vegetable, ornamental, and field crop production and pest forecast models.
  • Because NEWA weather data products are valued and accessed by all users, develop innovative weather products to attract future NEWA users.

The 2017 NEWA survey: use of models, tools, and resources

This is part four in a five-part blog series discussing 2017 NEWA survey results of users and non-users. Download the full report to learn more.

By Dan Olmstead and Julie Carroll

In the 2017 NEWA survey, participants were asked about NEWA resources used in the prior 12 months. These were organized into categories of weather data, apple, grape, vegetable, crop management, and ‘other’ resources.

Weather data tools

All products were chosen as having been used at similar levels (n=178): degree day tables (70%), daily summaries (67%), hourly data tables (52%), and a degree-day calculator (49%) — only recently developed for NEWA.

Apple models

Apple scab, fire blight, apple maggot, codling moth, plum curculio and the apple carbohydrate thinning models were indicated as used most frequently by respondents (Fig. 1). Use percentages were based on the number of respondents to the model use questions for diseases, insects, and crop management, which were 92, 77, and 76, respectively.

Figure 1. NEWA apple insect and disease model use among current users polled in a 2017 survey.

Grape models

All five grape tools were used at similar frequency among grape growers responding to these questions (n=72): grape berry moth 93%, black rot 83%, powdery mildew 82%, downy mildew 82%, and Phomopsis leaf and cane spot 79%.

Vegetable models

Fewer vegetable than fruit models are available on NEWA. Cabbage maggot and onion maggot models are popular among growers (Fig. 2). Use percentages were based on the number of respondents to disease and insect model questions, which were 35 and 20, respectively. NEWA vegetable tool development is an area for future growth. In addition, promotion and education on how to use existing vegetable tools would increase use.

Figure 2. NEWA vegetable insect and disease model use among current users polled in a 2017 survey.

Other resources

NEWA provides outbound links to other tools and 39% of users access these. Most popular are weather information links such as NOAA radar maps and USDA drought maps, and national platforms such as the late blight USABlight and the iPIPE for Cucumber Downy Mildew. The Stewart’s wilt of sweet corn risk map and the turfgrass disease risk tool were used by very few survey respondents, four and three, respectively. Recent technological advances will allow better integration of these resources and should be considered for development within the NEWA platform.

Up next: NEWA website end-user needs and experience