(03/21/23) BATON ROUGE, La. — As a nematologist with the LSU AgCenter, Tristan Watson is accustomed to his work earning the recognition of scientific organizations. Now he can add a public relations accolade to his résumé, too.
The Public Relations Society of America recently presented its Silver Anvil Award in Issues Management to Watson and other members of The SCN Coalition, which developed a national campaign to educate soybean farmers about nematode issues. The group is comprised of university scientists from 28 states and a Canadian province, grower checkoff programs, corporate partners and the MorganMyers marketing and public relations agency.
The soybean cyst nematode, or SCN, is a parasitic roundworm that feeds on soybean roots and can decrease yields by nearly 25%. It is a major concern in many states, but not in Louisiana, where other nematode species are bigger issues. The SCN Coalition aimed to educate growers on diagnosis and management of all major nematode pests of soybeans in the United States.
For more than 20 years, farmers have relied on soybean varieties with nematode resistance to keep these pests at bay. Over time, however, the nematodes have adapted, reducing the efficacy of this management tactic.
The coalition reports that its campaign has “motivated up to 18% more farmers to actively manage SCN, enabling them to farm more sustainably and profitably.” Its recommendations include testing fields to see if the nematode is present, rotating resistant varieties, rotating soybeans with nonhost crops and using nematode-protectant seed treatments.
The coalition’s website, www.thescncoalition.com, features state-specific information on nematode distribution, suggested rotation crops, where to send soil samples for testing and how to get in touch with experts. Educational videos also are available on the site.
Watson’s role in the coalition involved surveying the distribution and density of plant-parasitic nematode species in Louisiana soybean fields. Findings from the survey suggested that the primary nematode pests of soybeans in Louisiana are the Southern root-knot and reniform nematodes.
“The SCN Coalition has enhanced grower awareness of nematodes as a major pest of soybean across the United States,” Watson said. “Our multi-institutional team has provided a strong framework to support development of new nematode management tactics for this crop.”
LSU AgCenter nematologist Tristan Watson. LSU AgCenter photo
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture