BOZEMAN – Montana State University Extension’s Schutter Diagnostic Lab, the core of MSU’s Integrated Pest Management Program, released the first three in a series of educational videos earlier this month outlining the services the lab provides.

The lab, which works closely with MSU’s College of Agriculture, helps growers identify and manage pest problems using multiple methods rather than relying solely on pesticides. This integrated pest management approach seeks to incorporate knowledge of pest life cycles and regional environments to prevent diseases and combat harmful insects. Management can include techniques such as preventive traps for insect pests and biocontrols like insect-eating wasps as well as simple installations like door sweeps on greenhouses. Specialists in the Schutter Lab analyze an average of 3,000 samples per year to identify plants, insect pests, crop diseases and environmental stressors and recommend management strategies. The lab serves all of Montana, including its seven reservations, as well as several surrounding states.

“With each identification, we consider that an opportunity to educate the client,”said Schutter Lab scientist Mary Burrows, professor in the Department of Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology and MSU Extension specialist in plant pathology. “The first step in integrated pest management is identifying the pest, but we do pesticide safety education, community outreach and urban agriculture too. We partner with all kinds of people and just try to help wherever we can.”

The videos, produced by MontanaPBS, came in response to requests from Montana growers for more easily accessible educational content. Burrows calls the first three videos, released earlier this month, “success stories” of the Integrated Pest Management program. The first highlights the adoption of the program at a Bozeman’s Streamline Farm to aid in growing tomatoes year-round and the second explains how the Museum of the Rockies uses integrated pest management to protect sensitive displays and artifacts. The third video, featuring MSU’s Champ the Bobcat and emeritus professor Don Mathre, explains how to properly submit a sample to the lab for diagnosis.

“Our stakeholders mentioned that as people are using their phones more, they were wanting access to easier content,” said Sarah Eilers, manager of the Integrated Pest Management program. “Everyone kept saying they wanted videos, and these were the answer to that.”

Burrows said the Schutter Lab is often helps to identify trends in plant pests and diseases in the region. For instance, if a type of fungal plant disease develops resistance to fungicides, it can spread to susceptible plants nearby and cause millions of dollars in damage, said Burrows. An analysis from the Schutter Lab — and watchful producers who send in samples — can help to avoid crop losses through identification and education. The lab’s scientists also work closely with plant breeders in the College of Agriculture to develop varieties of barley, winter and spring wheat and other crops that are adapted to various threats in the state.

The first three videos can be viewed on the MSU Extension YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/MSUExtensionChannel/videos. Additional videos will be released throughout 2020.