Grants Mushroom Farming Plant Science

Penn State Receives USDA Grant for Mushroom Crop Pest Management

Penn State researchers receive over $7 million from the USDA to develop pest management tools for mushroom crops.

Key Takeaways

  1. Significant USDA Grant: Penn State researchers receive over $7 million from the USDA to develop pest management tools for mushroom crops.
  2. Pests and Pathogens Challenges: The project addresses significant threats to mushrooms, including phorid flies, fungus gnats, and various fungal pathogens.
  3. Innovative Technologies: Integration of new tools with Cropsmarts apps, including sensors and machine learning for pest management.
  4. Extensive Research Team: An interdisciplinary team involving pathologists, computer scientists, entomologists, and other experts.
  5. Focus on Energy Efficiency and Disease Control: Strategies for more efficient post-crop steaming and combating diseases like bacterial blotch.

Penn State researchers, led by David Beyer, have been awarded over $7 million by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The grant aims to develop new pest management tools and outreach initiatives for mushroom crops.

Addressing Crop Losses

Mushroom crops face significant losses, estimated at 10% to 15% annually, due to pests and diseases. This project seeks to mitigate these issues, which have long plagued North American mushroom growers.

Integration of Advanced Technologies

The team plans to enhance the Cropsmarts suite of apps, incorporating high-definition sensors and machine learning to automate data capture related to mushroom pest management. This approach aims to bring ‘smart agriculture’ technologies to the mushroom industry.

Pest Management and Disease Control

Key focuses include new tools for controlling fly populations and strategies for combating diseases like LFIV and bacterial blotch. The project will explore using nematodes and mites against fly larvae, test insecticides, and develop sensitive protocols for LFIV detection.

Interdisciplinary Approach

The extensive team comprises experts in various fields, highlighting the interdisciplinary nature of the work. The project also collaborates with several universities, including the University of Delaware and the University of Florida.

Photo by Thanh Soledas on Unsplash 

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