GRI Researchers Travel Abroad to Study Soybean Rust

Geosystems Research Institute
May 5, 2005

Story PhotoStory PhotoWade Givens and Louis Wasson, research associates from MSU's GeoResources Institute, recently traveled to Encarnacion, Paraguay to conduct research at the Regional Agriculture Investigation Center (CRIA) on the Asian Soybean Rust (SBR) fungus which is threatening the US agricultural industry. Soybeans represent the largest acreage of planted crops in the nation at 75 million acres and are second only to corn in total value. Experts estimate damages from SBR could reach $2 billion during the upcoming growing season.

In order to gather data from infected soybean fields in Paraguay, an Analytical Spectral Device (ASD) was shipped from MSU. The ASD is used to analyize the spectral signature of soybean plants infected with the fungus. Though a plant's leaves may appear healthy and green, internally it may be under attack by disease. Sunlight interacts differently Story Photowith diseased plants and the naked-eye cannot see the change in leaf reflectance. It is hoped that data gathered from the ASD will allow researchers here at MSU to train sensors in aircraft and satellites to 'see' the SBR fungus. This technology will allow for better monitoring and tracking of the fungus over large regions. Warnings can then be issued alerting farmers to the need for fungicide treatments of their crops.

For more information, contact
Wade Givens at 662-325-0779 or,
or Louis Wasson at 662-328-3167 or

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