New Extension website helps solve pest and disease problems
CORVALLIS, Ore. — A new website from the Oregon State University Extension Service provides a wealth of science-based solutions for garden pests, weeds, and diseases in one easy-to-navigate place.
The project was spearheaded by Weston Miller, an OSU Extension community horticulturist who got the ball rolling six years ago when collaborators expressed interest and provided funding for what would become the Fix pest and weed problems website.
“Our stakeholders – Metro, Multnomah East and West Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and the Town of Gresham – challenged OSU to create a public-friendly pest management resource. part of my job was to figure out what resources Extension has and bring them together in one place,” Miller said.
Solve Pest and Weed Problems focuses specifically on the Pacific Northwest and prioritizes low-risk approaches. Based on the feedback, Miller incorporated household pests, invasive plants, pesticide safety and pollinators, and pests and diseases.
“We did extensive planning, including community input, user testing, feedback from agencies, nonprofits, and many more,” Miller said. “We were able to hire a professional to design the website and do the graphic design. Little by little, we continued to improve it and take advantage of it.
Peer-reviewed content is presented in categories with information presented below the photos. Clicking on the photo takes you to another page that offers information on identification, look-alikes, and specific information about the control. High-quality color photos illustrate each subject.
After compiling extension resources from sources such as Pacific Northwest Pest Control Handbooks, entries are authored by Miller with assistance from Signe Danler, OSU Extension Master Gardener Online Horticulture Instructor and other OSU experts. Content is peer-reviewed by OSU’s Department of Horticulture, College of Agricultural Sciences. Miller edits the content and publishes it on the website. More entries will be added in the future.
To provide more information, the website provides links to other OSU extension resources, as well as other academic-level scientific sources.
“We hope public and private property managers will find practical pest management and prevention,” Miller said. “We want people to use it to make informed decisions for their gardens and public spaces.”
To do this, users will find sections on using fewer pesticides, pesticide safety, organic pesticides, and preventative measures like planting in the right place for size, water needs, exposure, and soil. for each plant. Using the right breeding criteria keeps plants healthy, and a healthy plant can ward off pests and disease, Miller said. The hope, he added, is that people will use fewer pesticides – or if they do, in a safe way.
Weeds – on both sides of the Cascades and across the state – are attracting attention. Examples include cheatgrass in eastern and western Oregon; pampas grass on the coast; and the tree of heaven, a species of statewide concern. The website includes guides on how to manage landscapes without pesticides or herbicides and 20 pages of advice on pesticide safety.
“We’re bringing together material that isn’t available in one place with such comprehensive information,” Miller said. “We are extremely grateful to our partners in the wider community who were looking to have a sustainable information service to meet a fairly defined need. I am proud of what we have accomplished.