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Iowa State entomologists join other soybean pest researchers to earn two national awards


Researchers at Iowa State and other land-grant universities have worked for many years to develop and implement management programs for soybean insect pests that are economically and ecologically sustainable.

This fall, those efforts resulted in two national awards for a coalition of soybean researchers around the country, including Iowa State entomologists Matthew O'Neal and Erin Hodgson.

One award is the 2009 National Excellence In Multistate Research Award from the American Public Land-Grant Universities. The other is the 2009 Integrated Pest Management Team Award from the Entomological Foundation.

The first award was presented Nov. 15 at the APLU annual meeting in Washington, D.C. The project--S1039: Biology, impact and management of soybean insect pests in soybean production systems--began in 2008 and is funded through 2012 by the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service.

This CSREES-funded project has operated since the 1970s through an unbroken string of successive projects forming the foundation for research and extension efforts on national and regional soybean insect problems.

In recent years, the focus has been on the soybean aphid, an invasive bug that arrived from Asia in 2000, and now is well-established in Iowa and across the Midwest. If left untreated, aphids can cause soybean yield losses of 40 to 50 percent.

As a result of the coordinated program led by the S1039 committee, soybean growers in North America now have pest management tools and recommendations to fight the soybean aphid. The committee's recommendations for using insecticides against the soybean aphid are projected to save U.S. growers $1.3 billion in the next 15 years.

The second award will be presented Dec. 14 at the Entomological Society of America's annual meeting in Indianapolis. This award goes to the Soybean Aphid Integrated Pest Management Team that was formed in December 2000.

Team members developed a simple method growers can use to sample for soybean aphids in their fields, which accelerated the adoption of IPM for the pest. The team continues to collaborate with industry partners to develop aphid resistant varieties, while also working to increase biological controls.

Matthew O'Neal, assistant professor and soybean entomologist with teaching responsibilities, and Erin Hodgson, assistant professor and soybean entomologist with extension responsibilities, are the current Iowa State faculty members involved in the fight against soybean pests. Previously, Iowa State entomologists Larry Pedigo and Marlin Rice were active in national research and outreach efforts.

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