Our extension programming serves the needs of the “green industry” by providing research-based training and information to stakeholders.
The green industry is a diverse group of horticultural commodity areas including turfgrass, woody ornamentals, Christmas trees, and greenhouses.
Prior to Chris’s arrival at UW-Madison, entomological extension programming for the green industry was lacking.
This circumstance coupled with the rapidly growing green industry has resulted in increased demands and needs for extension programming.
It is estimated that the green industry is a $2.7 billion industry in Wisconsin and over $147 billion industry in the U.S. (http://www.wgif.net/pdfs/wa-0151web.pdf).
Our specific role and mission are to develop, enhance, and sustain a state and regionally recognized extension program that offers appropriate, effective, practical, and new and progressive extension programming based on industry needs.
Our extension programming is developed to address important current and foreseeable problems or issues faced by green industry stakeholders in Wisconsin.
Chris has been proactively engaged with green industry constituents to appropriately determine, assess, and prioritize their needs and issues. Thus, our extension program has a cohesive and synergistic relationship with our applied research program.
We work with colleagues on campus to design and develop outreach programs, select speakers, generate written materials and otherwise plan and deliver all aspects of a successful, research based program to green industry stakeholders and county horticultural agents. Such programs are listed below.
In addition to formalized training, we also provide individual support through phone, email, or site visits to green industry constituents throughout Wisconsin, the north central region, and nation. Such requests are from industry professionals or regulatory agencies who recognize our expertise.
Our extension programming has focused on four core areas:
- Turfgrass Insect Pest Management
- Invasive Insect Species Education
- Woody Ornamental Insect Pest Management, including Christmas trees
- Integrated Turfgrass Management
- Protecting Pollinators in the Urban Landscape
Turfgrass Insect Pest Management
Our extension programming provides turfgrass managers with practical, effective, economical, and environmentally sound insect pest management strategies.
We utilize various outreach vehicles including:
- traditional extension fact sheets and bulletins
- field days
- short courses
- one-on-one phone or on-site consultation and training
- website education to extend information
As an example of the impact of our extension program, two golf course superintendents made the decision to forego larval Japanese beetle insecticide treatment applications based on Chris’s extension recommendations.
In addition to pesticide reduction, these superintendents saved $10,000 and $12,000, respectively.
Another example of the influence/impact of our extension program is that Chris was able to diagnose what was perceived by a golf course superintendent to be a turfgrass disease issue, to be the result of an ant species. This discovery resulted in the elimination of an unnecessary pesticide application that saved approximately $5000. The outcome of this situation resulted in a trade-journal publication to benefit other golf course superintendents (Williamson 2001).
Our extension program also serves constituents by providing unbiased, research-based information regarding insecticide performance. We evaluate both experimental and commercially available turfgrass insecticides.
To this end, Chris was contacted by Tom Harrison (Maple Bluff Country Club) to assist him with a controversial insecticide performance issue. Chris resolved the situation by providing my professional expertise and assessment of the product failure with the manufacturer.
Invasive Insect Species Education
As a result of economic globalization, the U.S. relies heavily on the importation of products from foreign countries. Such importations have resulted in the importation of exotic, invasive insect pests that have resulted in a negative economic and plant health impact. Our extension programming is designed to rapidly recognize the occurrence of such importations, areas of potential impact on the ornamental industry, and develop comprehensive educational information that will enable state agencies, green industry professionals, and the general public to appropriate prepare for potential threats.
For example, in June 2002, the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) was discovered near Detroit, MI.
EAB is capable of attacking and killing the four native ash tree species in Wisconsin.
In early 2003, we implemented an EAB extension program to educate and inform various green industry stakeholders, UWEX county agents and the general public.
Another deliverable that was generated was an EAB Educational Summit; this event was co-conceived, co-developed, and implemented via a collaborative effort with Dr. Scott Thomson (University of Wisconsin-Parkside) in the Fall of 2005.
Chris has delivered > 60 EAB educational presentations and created and distributed an educational EAB poster and CD that consists of all the available information.
In 2008, EAB was discovered in southeast Wisconsin and 15 counties in the state are currently quarantined as a result of EAB.
Also, in concert with Phil Pellitteri and P.J. Liesch (Dept. Entomology), we co-developed a website (www.entomology.wisc.edu/emeraldashborer) that provides important information about EAB. This website was recently updated (2011) to host a series of video seminars developed for the public and the green industry.
Recently, Chris and P.J. have updated EAB treatment fact sheets for homeowners and have developed and launched a video demonstration for homeowners wishing to treat their trees.
We have also helped develop and coordinate EAB Workshops in La Crosse, Madison, Menominee, Milwaukee, and Wisconsin Rapids from 2010-2012.
Chris also recently exhibited and promoted our EAB extension program at the Star Cinema IMAX theater (Fitchburg, WI) that featured the movie A Rainforest Adventure-Bugs 3D; it is estimated that > 5000 people attended.
Chris has also played a role in reviewing the Wisconsin DATCP EAB Response Plan that has become official policy.
EAB is merely only one of several important invasive insect species, other important invasive insect pests include the Japanese beetle, Gypsy Moth, and the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug.
We have several extension publications that focus on the Japanese beetle and Gypsy Moth, and we currently manage and update the UW-Extension Gypsy Moth website (http://fyi.uwex.edu/gypsymothinwisconsin/) in cooperation with the WI DNR.
Woody Ornamental Insect Pest Management, including Christmas Trees
The major initiative of our extension programming is to provide stakeholders with integrated pest management strategies that are practical, economical, research-based and environmentally responsible. To this end, in a collaborative effort with on-campus colleagues as well as regionally, Chris and PJ served as the primary authors of a Woody Ornamental Pest Management Bulletin (A3597).
Chris has also developed a Linden Borer Fact Sheet (A3813) based on the results on an applied research project.
Another example of utilizing applied research results to generate extension information is our work on the Gypsy Moth. Chris’s research revealed that a natural insecticide (93% soybean oil) was an effective management strategy, providing >95% control.
Lastly, our Christmas tree extension program resulted in the reduction of economic loss of >$12,000 per acre by Dan Hanauer (Shawano, WI).
Prior to our involvement, Mr. Hanauer was experiencing Christmas tree losses of > 900/1000 trees/acre as a result of a below-ground insect pest.
He contacted me via the recommendation of the Wisconsin DATCP, consequently we provided him with appropriate insect management information that enabled him to effective reduce his losses by as much as 88% ( »$10,500/acre).
A research project on Mr. Hanauer’s farm in 2008 and 2009 resulted in a peer-reviewed scientific journal article, as well as, a UW-Extension fact sheet regarding grub control on Christmas tree farms.
Integrated Turfgrass Management
ITM is a program provides education and training to professional turfgrass managers to enable them to meet provisions of laws promulgated by state agencies to reduce the impact of turfgrass production practices on the environment.
Chris is the leader of the ITM program and is responsible for the ITM concept and obtaining funding ($87,919) through the Wisconsin Idea Initiative project (UW-Graduate School).
The mission of the ITM program is to equip turfgrass managers with practical, cost-effective, and environmentally responsible turfgrass management practices via:
- an ITM manual
- training and education workshops
- on-site grower consultations
- turfgrass diagnostic services via the UW-Madison Turf Diagnostic Laboratory
Two ITM workshops have been conducted where participants from a multitude of disciplines attended. Assessment surveys revealed that most participants gained valuable insight on how to effectively develop and implement environmentally responsible turfgrass management practices, many participants reported that they will adopt and implement changes.
Another important impact of the ITM program is that information from the ITM manual was requested by the Wisconsin DNR to develop technical standards for NR151.31 Wis. Adm. Code.
Protecting Pollinators in the Urban Landscape
The ecological and economic services that bees and other pollinating insects provide are invaluable. Almost 85% of the world’s flowering plants depend on pollinators to reproduce. Unfortunately, we are losing these important services due to an alarming decline in pollinating insects across the world. These losses in population and biodiversity are potentially being driven by a combination of interacting factors, including habitat loss, diseases, parasites, and insecticide exposure.
Consequently, finding ways to promote and preserve pollinators is of utmost importance for homeowners and for professional landscape managers.
There are numerous indications of the quality and impact of my extension programs. Attendance and program summaries are summarized below.
To effectively assess the overall capacity, level of leadership, usefulness, benefit, value, and impact of Chris’s extension/outreach insect management program, two assessment surveys 1) UWEX horticultural agents and 2) green industry professionals have been solicited. A summary of the survey results are provided below.
Other indicators of our impact and leadership include:
- Chris’s appointment to the City of Madison, WI, Pest Management Advisory Committee where Chris have severed as chairperson since 2005
- Chris was invited by Audubon International to serve as an expert reviewer for the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program
- Chris was also elected as chairperson for the USDA, NCR-193, a multi-state project comprised of ornamental extension and research entomologists and plant pathologists in the U.S.
Our extension presentations, including lectures, workshops, seminars, short courses, and individualized instruction are highly rated, well attended, and some are revenue generating- the later being increasingly important. To this end, we have generated > $300,000 in extension-based grants and revenue solely for the purpose of extension programming.
As further indication of the leadership and impact of our extension programming, Chris was awarded the Entomological Society of America-NCB, Entomological Foundation Recognition Award in Urban Entomology. Chris is also frequently invited to speak at regional and national meetings to green industry professionals.
The land-grant system of complementary extension, research and teaching is a prevailing model that our extension program represents. We will continue to work closely with the green industry to serve their needs. Through Chris’s leadership, our goal is to shift the paradigm of the green industry’s reliance on conventional pesticides to alternative, non-pesticide management strategies.