Montana plant pest identification lab saves growers nearly $2 million in 2021
Montana State University and MSU Extension provide plant pest identification through the Schutter Diagnostic Laboratory. The lab’s mission is to safeguard Montana agriculture, landscapes and public spaces from plant pests by offering identification services, management advice and education. The lab’s recommendations are based on integrated pest management (IPM) principles. The mission of the lab also includes the early detection of new and invasive pests that may pose a risk to Montana and to the United States. During the drought conditions of 2021, producers encountered different plants than usual in pastures and rangeland, leading to issues with toxicity to livestock. Accurate plant identification was an important step in addressing these types of issues.
The lab processed several samples of pasture and rangeland plants after livestock losses had occurred. The lab identified poisonous plants such as western waterhemlock and nitrate-accumulating plants like those in the goosefoot genus (kochia and lambsquarters) and recommended next steps. In many cases, the lab confirmed submitted plants were not known to be toxic or problematic to livestock. In 2021, the lab conducted diagnoses of 2,643 plant disease, insect/other arthropod, plant, mushroom, herbicide injury and other abiotic disorders. It did so through physical mail along with email and submitted samples. Samples were received from 53 of 56 counties and reservation offices in Montana and eight additional states: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oregon and Wyoming. In addition to diagnostic services, the lab diagnosticians provided outreach, research and educational materials about pests of concern to clients in Montana.
$1.8 million was saved based on the lab diagnoses and associated management recommendations, affecting approximately 810,000 acres. 84% of survey respondents said they used recommendations and/or resources that were provided by the diagnosticians in the diagnostic reports, and 96% of the survey respondents found it easy to submit samples. 94% of the survey respondents thought the timeliness of a response/diagnosis was “good” or “excellent.”
Link to full statement on website: http://landgrantimpacts.tamu.edu/impacts/show/6045