The social media platform Twitter was used to monitor corn and soybean diseases in the United States during 2016 and 2017 as part of a campaign to involve crop scouts, farmers, educators, and agricultural advisors in disease data sharing. The purpose was to explore the feasibility of providing farmers and crop consultants with an easily accessible, user-friendly, no-cost platform for sharing disease observations with rapid information transfer and early warning capabilities. Two Twitter accounts were created, @soydisease and @corndisease, as part of an accessible data collection method for later input into the Integrated Pest Information Platform for Extension and Education (iPiPE). Multiple methods were employed to create awareness and recruit users, which included writing articles for extension and popular farm news outlets and directly contacting potential agribusiness and extension stakeholders. From the creation of the accounts in February 2016 through September 2017, there were 738 followers and 8,668 profile visits for @soydisease; and 1,149 followers and 17,294 profile visits for @corndisease, with a variety of contributors including university extension, industry agronomists and service providers, students, a commodity group, and agricultural news. During the 2016 and 2017 growing seasons, use of the Twitter disease-monitoring campaign successfully helped track the movement of southern rust (caused by Puccinia polysora) of corn northward, allowing for advanced notice for scouting efforts. Although this is only an initial attempt, it shows that representatives from across a wide variety of agricultural sectors can contribute to a plant disease monitoring system using a common social media engine.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Agronomy and Crop Science
- Plant Science