by Curt Petzoldt
Abby Seaman, an Area Extension Educator for the NYS IPM Program, has made many contributions toward increasing the use of IPM practices by vegetable farmers in New York.
A key project that Abby leads is the late blight list-serve that she initiated after the very bad late blight epidemics in the mid 1990s. This list serve is an excellent resource during "epidemic" years of potato late blight. The list-serve is actually used by extension staff throughout the eastern part of the United States—some of the first reports in 2010 were from Louisiana, Kentucky and Maryland. Knowledge about what is happening in other areas provides those on the front line in New York with information about how to combat the problem. The late blight list-serve is certainly the most relied upon source of information on late blight outbreaks in New York. Because of the reliability of Abby's listserve, growers will frequently wait to apply chemical controls until they know that late blight is in the area.
Abby was instrumental in helping to develop a sweet corn insect pest management program that demonstrated that farmers could reduce spraying by nearly half while still maintaining quality corn. This effort resulted in Wegman's adopting an IPM label for sweet corn and opened the market for Agricultural Consulting Services to scout and follow thresholds on nearly all the processing sweet corn grown in NY.
Abby annually organizes a sweet corn trapping network and sends weekly reports on insect trapping that are critical to the sweet com industry. Growers often remark about the importance of knowing the trap counts prior to making management decisions.
Abby is recognized for her remarkable ability to easily interact with any group of
farmers, as well as US and international academic faculty. Abby has doggedly pursued the belief that pest management practices can be improved through the generation of new knowledge and that assisting growers in adopting this information makes the world a better place.
Recently, Abby has been instrumental in helping to develop guidelines for organic production of the most important vegetable crops grown in NY. The manuals produced for this project have been downloaded from the IPM website over 40,000 times in less than 2 years from locations around the globe—a remarkable achievement even in today's electronic age.