By Kate Wilhite, College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences

Jones-V-80PULLMAN, Wash. — Vincent Jones, professor of entomology at the WSU Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center in Wenatchee, has been named director of the tree fruit decision aid system (DAS).

The DAS is an online resource that integrates the latest research-based information into a time-sensitive predictive system to help Washington growers and consultants make better orchard management decisions on a variety of issues including pest management, plant diseases and weather.

The DAS has been in operation for the past seven years using models originating from WSU researchers, including Jones. The system couples with real-time weather data from WSU’s AgWeatherNetwork (AWN) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to predict crop and pest development in tree fruit production systems.

“Dr. Jones was the natural choice for the director title,” said Rich Koenig, associate dean and director of WSU Extension. “This is largely his product and represents the most advanced tree fruit decision aid system in existence.”

As director, Jones will take on a partial Extension appointment in addition to his faculty appointment, and WSU’s College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS) will provide additional resources to support the DAS system.

“Decision support systems are a natural evolution of Extension’s mission of transferring information to the users,” said Jones. “Extension’s close involvement and support will further expand our efforts and WSU’s reputation in this area.

“The rapid growth of cell networks and maturity of Internet technology allow users access to critical information nearly everywhere in the state,” said Jones. “The next few years will be a very exciting time for both educators and end-users.”

Building on this work, CAHNRS is taking steps to develop and implement decision support systems for the other major commodity and specialty crops included in its research portfolio. “Decision Support Systems (DSSs) represent the perfect juncture between research and outreach,” said Koenig. “They allow WSU to couple the latest in cutting-edge research with real-time data from AgWeatherNet and other sources to drive the models.”

CAHNRS now has decision support systems under development for wheat, potatoes and grapes, to assist in pest control, irrigation scheduling, fertilizer management and marketing decisions. These projects will include mobile device-enabled DSSs that send push notifications alerting subscribers about critical conditions.

“Combining the knowledge and experience of DAS with the infrastructure of AWN will allow us to develop the best, state-of-the-art portal in support of the local agricultural industry,” said Gerrit Hoogenboom, director of AWN and WSU professor of Agrometeorology, who added that these portals will be especially valuable for addressing issues associated with weather uncertainty and variability.

CAHNRS will convene a task force to develop a vision for implementing decision tools across the college, including their development with a common portal through which the systems would be accessed by subscribers, and ways to utilize technology to enhance access and usability.

“I am excited to see how WSU’s research-based information will drive the development of new technology and tools to benefit decision-making by Washington producers,” said Desmond Layne, endowed chair and Tree Fruit Extension leader. Layne will facilitate the initial meeting of the task force, which is composed of faculty representing major crops, including tree fruit, grape, cereals and potatoes. The task force will begin its work before the end of 2013.

 

Contact: Kate Wilhite, Marketing, News and Educational Communications, 509-335-8164, kate.wilhite@wsu.edu.

Source Contacts: Vince Jones, WSU Wenatchee TFREC, 509-663-8181, vpjones@wsu.edu.
Gerrit Hoogenboom, AgWeatherNet Program, 509-786-9371, gerrit.hoogenboom@wsu.edu.
Desmond Layne, WSU Wenatchee TFREC, 509-663-8181, desmond.layne@wsu.edu.