<![CDATA[Ag Metrics Group - News & Updates]]>Mon, 01 May 2023 12:11:59 -0700EditMySite<![CDATA[Ag Metrics Group Winter 2023 Newsletter]]>Tue, 07 Feb 2023 20:46:43 GMThttp://www.agmetricsgroup.com/news-updates/ag-metrics-group-winter-2023-newsletterWe’re ready for the 2023 research season!
2023 is shaping up to be the largest data generation season on record across the West, Midwest, and Southeast US. The last few years under Covid have brought new pest outbreaks in key cropping systems coupled with an industrywide pent-up demand for R&D data for product developers and growers alike. In response, our company has doubled down on our core capabilities to give our clients the insights they need to accomplish product development goals and drive new value for our farmers.
The world has reset–leaving an opening for biology to move in new ways. Over the last three years, we have witnessed significant crop losses across our farming regions. This includes a serious new Thrips / INS Virus / Pythium “Pest Complex” on lettuce in the Salinas Valley of California, explosive Tar Spot outbreaks in the Midwest, and strawberry crop losses from newly introduced Neopestalotiopsis in Florida. These and other agronomic challenges surfaced during Covid and have kept us busy working to understand their epidemiology and uncover new opportunities for control.
Frank Sances, President & Founder of Ag Metrics GroupFrank Sances, President
To meet this demand, Ag Metrics Group has significantly increased facilities, professional staff, and methods development to offer an expanded portfolio of experimentation for our sponsors. Research capabilities added this year include five new climate-controlled greenhouses for California and Florida. In Michigan, we built 4,800 sq. ft. of new Entomology and Nematology laboratories, surrounded by 80 additional acres of premium irrigated farmland. All told, Ag Metrics Group has grown to 12 science laboratories, 70 full-time staff, and several hundred acres of company-owned farms in key agricultural regions of the American West, Midwest, and Southeast. Our client base includes most all ag-product manufacturers, many regional grower cooperatives, and governmental agencies that include state universities and the USDA.

Now more than ever, we recognize the critical impact data-driven product development has on our industry. These solutions enable growers to respond to new challenges and opportunities with confidence in the stewardship of their land. Privatized science is the key to rapid and robust biological insights to demonstrate value in a dynamic and diverse set of pest and environmental applications into the future. We look forward to our continued partnership with our clients and wish you all a very successful year.

Frank

Ag Metrics Group Provides “First Report of Neopestalotiopsis rosae Causing Crown and Root Rot of Strawberry in California”

Neopestalotiopsis rosae Causing Crown and Root Rot of Strawberry
American Phytopathological Society of America (APS)
Dan Lawrence 1, Greg Brittain 1, Balaji Aglave 2, Frank Sances 3
1 Pacific Ag Research, 2 Florida Ag Research, 3 Ag Metrics Group
 
Following these authors’ research in Central Florida strawberry plantings in late 2019, they found this devastating fungus again in Salinas, California, on newly transplanted strawberries in the winter of 2021. Since their original Florida research, the fungus is now well established throughout the Southeast and has become the key pest for this crop early season. This subsequent finding in California is the first scientific proof that it has moved westward into other US strawberry producing areas, and has the potential to cause crop losses to growers in that region.

Turf & Ornamental Capabilities Expanded Companywide in 2023

The turfgrass and ornamental plant industries demand excellence in performance and safety from pest management and plant health products. This past year, we added specialized staff and test systems that include hoop-house and field plantings of turf varieties for year-round product efficacy and phytotoxicity testing.

Experimentation on ornamentals includes flowering and foliage plant species, succulents, and landscape plants, including trees and vines. When needed, Plant Pathology and Entomology labs support all T&O trials with challenge organisms to facilitate trial success.

California Adds 5,400 sq. ft. of Greenhouses

To accommodate increased need for greenhouse space for experimentation, the Central Coast greenhouse facilities grew by 30% in 2022, bringing the total controlled environment research area to 15,000 sq. ft. Greenhouses include small, medium, and large individual structures to isolate experiments for individual sponsors or to manage temperatures more closely for special test protocols, sensitive host plants or pest species. One greenhouse is dedicated to research on hydroponics, while others are high enough for tall test plants such as grape vines, hot house tomatoes, or trees. In support of the greenhouse test system is a full-time Horticulturalist managing several greenhouse and science technicians.

New San Joaquin Valley Field-Lab at Our Five Points Station

New San Joaquin Valley Field-Lab at Pacific Ag Research Five Points Station
In 2022, we remodeled 1,200 ft2 of administrative offices, opened a new 2,500 ft2 climate-controlled field lab, and installed additional fruit, nut, and vine plantings. We added more microscopy, a walk-in cooler, a post-harvest drying unit, and a deep well with a new reservoir for sustainable water at this site going forward. The past year we purchased more off-site equipment including a new tow vehicle, support trucks, and another mobile orchard sprayer platform for off-site trials. Together with a new research biologist, these assets comprise a well-equipped and staffed Central Valley research campus with a wide geographic radius of field activities for product development needs.

Michigan Ag Research Expansion in Final Stage of Completion

Michigan Ag Research Expansion in Final Stage of Completion
To advance our goal to provide the best possible administration and science campus at Albion, Michigan Ag Research is now in the final stages of construction of a 4,800 ft2 building that will include:
  • Specialized and general entomology bioassay lab
  • Nematology soil extraction and microscopy rooms
  • Expansion of the Plant Pathology lab
  • Low humidity storage rooms for electronics and sensors
  • Equipment shop for year-round maintenance of tractors and implements

In addition to the new laboratory facilities, 80 acres of irrigated farm land were added, bringing the total station size to 200 acres.

Publicly Funded Research:
Soil Solarization Proof of Concept

Frank Sances presenting at the Florida Strawberry Grower Association & UF/IFAS Tailgate on January 11, 2023
Frank Sances presenting at the Florida Strawberry Grower Association & UF/IFAS Tailgate on January 11, 2023
Soil Solarization Proof of Concept QR Code

​Summary: Management of soil borne pests on commercial Florida strawberry farms has long been a challenge to growers. In recent years, this has been particularly difficult with regulatory pressures on the use of remaining chemical soil fumigants and the costs associated with their use. Also, while still in its infancy, organic strawberry production in Florida has been established by several shippers to try to meet the demand for this strawberry market segment.

To provide growers with alternative non-fumigant soil pest management techniques, this project builds on previous work from these and other researchers with an on-site demonstration of Soil Solarization and Anaerobic Soil Disinfestation for the 2023 grower outreach event by our collaborative groups.

Findings were presented at the Florida Strawberry Grower Association & UF/IFAS Tailgate on January 11, 2023.
QR Code to see the Poster for the study:

Post Hurricanes, Florida Ag Research
Adds More Greenhouse Space

More greenhouse space at Florida Ag Research
After cleaning up from two hurricanes (repairing and rebuilding) 40,000 sq. ft. of greenhouse and shadehouses, Florida Ag Research added 5,000 sq. ft. of climate-controlled greenhouses and 7,500 sq. ft. of shadehouses. Within two weeks of Hurricane Ian’s passage we were back in business, thanks to employee crews from Florida Ag Research and California colleagues from Pacific Ag Research!

Charlie Boone Promoted to Station Manager at Florida Ag Research

Charlie Boone - Station Manager at Florida Ag ResearchCharlie Boone
Charlie Boone continues in his supervisory role overseeing the Company’s land and labor resources for East Tampa and Dover sites. As an Environmental Horticulturist, Charlie is particularly well-suited to run our research facility since he grew up on a commercial nursery farm just a few miles from the Florida Ag Research offices. Currently Charlie’s crew manages research greenhouses and shadehouses for our science laboratories experimentation, plus the USDA Quarantine facility.

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<![CDATA[Florida Strawberry Grower Association & UF/IFAS Tailgate Presentation]]>Thu, 12 Jan 2023 08:00:00 GMThttp://www.agmetricsgroup.com/news-updates/florida-strawberry-grower-association-ufifsas-tailgate-presentationYesterday we were in Dover, Florida, at the Florida Strawberry Grower Association & UF/IFAS Tailgate. Frank Sances presented updated data on Combining Soil Solarization with Conventional Chemical Fumigants and Anaerobic Soil Disinfestation (ASD) in Florida Strawberry Production. See the poster here  
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<![CDATA[Combining Soil Solarization with Conventional Chemical Fumigants and Anaerobic Soil Disinfestation (ASD) in Florida Strawberry Production]]>Wed, 11 Jan 2023 08:00:00 GMThttp://www.agmetricsgroup.com/news-updates/combining-soil-solarization-with-conventional-chemical-fumigants-and-anaerobic-soil-disinfestation-asd-in-florida-strawberry-production9782568Combining Soil Solarization with Conventional Chemical Fumigants and Anaerobic Soil Disinfestation (ASD) in Florida Strawberry ProductionClick Image to Download
F.V. Sances (1), B. Aglave (1), K. Williams (1), C. Boone (1), S. Sances (2), W. Schonborn (3), & E. Rosskopf (3)
(1) Florida Ag Research, (2) Ag Metrics Group, (3) US Department of Agriculture (Collaboration Only)


Introduction
Management of soil borne pests on commercial Florida strawberry farms has long been a challenge to growers. In recent years, this has been particularly difficult with regulatory pressures on the use of remaining chemical soil fumigants and the costs associated with their use. Also, while still in its infancy, organic strawberry production in Florida has been established by several shippers to try to meet the demand for this strawberry market segment. To provide growers with alternative non-fumigant soil pest management techniques, this project builds on previous work from these and other researchers with an on-site demonstration of Soil Solarization and Anaerobic Soil Disinfestation for the 2023 grower outreach by our collaborative groups.

Methodology
Planting beds were inoculated with soil borne diseases, Sting and Root Knot nematodes, and common weed seeds prior to treatment. Four replications of six treatments (Table 1) were randomly placed into planting beds previously farmed (2021) in strawberries. Each plot comprises two planted beds (4 plant lines), 40 ft in length (8 ft x 40 ft plots, 320 ft²), in a randomized complete block (RCB) experimental layout. Following summer Solarization and ASD plots, beds were reworked in September, standard fumigation applied to comparison plots, and all plots planted and grown conventionally to maturity on October 15, 2022. Data collection for pest control and yields have begun. AOV with LSD Means comparison, α=0.05.
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<![CDATA[2022 Methyl Bromide Alternatives Outreach Conference in Orlando - Nov. 2-4, 2022]]>Fri, 21 Oct 2022 14:59:48 GMThttp://www.agmetricsgroup.com/news-updates/2022-methyl-bromide-alternatives-outreach-conference-in-orlando-nov-2-4-2022
Frank Sances will be attending the 2022 MBAO: Fumigation and Alternatives for Production, Storage and Trade Conference in Orlando. Come find out about our "Efficacy of Solarization and Anaerobic Soil Disinfestation" study. Email us to have a meet-up or a pre- or post-conference tour of our Florida Station, less than 2 hours from Orlando. #anaerobicdisinfestation #strawberry #MBAO #Methylbromide #FloridaAg #FloridaAgResearch info@agmetricsgroup.com
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<![CDATA[Ag Metrics Group provides "First Report of Neopestalotiopsis rosae Causing Crown and Root Rot of Strawberry in California."]]>Mon, 27 Jun 2022 19:17:35 GMThttp://www.agmetricsgroup.com/news-updates/ag-metrics-group-provides-first-report-of-neopestalotiopsis-rosae-causing-crown-and-root-rot-of-strawberry-in-california
Neopestalotiopsis rosae can potentially become a significant problem for strawberry growers in the Salinas Valley of California. The study is authored by Dan Lawrence - Pacific Ag Research, Greg Brittain - Pacific Ag Research, Balaji Aglave - Florida Ag Research and Frank Sances - Ag Metrics Group. 

#research #strawberry #strawberrydisease #aps #crownrot #rootrot
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<![CDATA[Florida Strawberry Growers Association (FSGA) Field Day Recap – January 12, 2022]]>Thu, 13 Jan 2022 23:27:24 GMThttp://www.agmetricsgroup.com/news-updates/florida-strawberry-growers-association-fsga-field-day-recap-january-12-2022
Mark Keeley, Ag Metrics Group, presents
Mark Keeley, Ag Metrics Group, presents "Combining Soil Solarization with Conventional Chemical Fumigants and Anaerobic Soil Disinfestation (ASD) in Florida Strawberry Production" project at the Florida Strawberry Growers Association 2022 Field Day
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​(Dover, Florida)
Strawberry growers, industry leaders, researchers from University of Florida Gulf Coast Research and Education Center (GCREC), and researchers from Florida Ag Research (an Ag Metrics Group Company) gathered for the annual Florida Strawberry Growers Association (FSGA) Field Day on January 12.
Picture
Click Image to Download
Florida Ag Research presented a “Proof of Concept” field demonstration intended to evaluate the suitability of using solar radiation to enhance soil borne pest control with Conventional Fumigants and Anaerobic Soil Disinfestation in commercial Florida strawberry production. Potential benefits of the system include:
 
a) Solarization and ASD are approved organic soil pest control options
b) Solarization with conventional soil borne pest control inputs may allow reduction in chemical usage
c) ASD is a potential waste recycling system
​The project, which began in June of 2021, was published by Florida Ag Research/Ag Metrics Group scientists and growers: Frank Sances, Balaji Aglave, Mark Keeley, Kaleb Williams, and Charlie Boone.
 
The Solarization Project was presented by Ag Metrics Group’s Mark Keeley (formerly a Station Manager of Florida Ag Research). “It was great to come back out and present this exciting work to growers and researchers since the ‘Field Day’ was cancelled last January,” said Keeley, “And a great opportunity to introduce Mariano [Galla], the new Florida Ag Research Station Manager, to the Florida strawberry grower community.”
L to R: Florida Ag Research / Ag Metrics Group Project Team: Kaleb Williams - Field Operations, Mark Keeley - Special Projects, Brad Booker - Pacific Ag Research Station Manager (former Florida Ag Research Station Manager), Charlie Boone - Assistant Station Manager, Balaji Aglave - Nematology / Plant Pathology, Mariano Galla - Station Manager
L to R: Florida Ag Research / Ag Metrics Group Project Team: Kaleb Williams - Field Operations, Mark Keeley - Special Projects, Brad Booker - Pacific Ag Research Station Manager (former Florida Ag Research Station Manager), Charlie Boone - Assistant Station Manager, Balaji Aglave - Nematology / Plant Pathology, Mariano Galla - Station Manager
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<![CDATA[Combining Soil Solarization with Conventional Chemical Fumigants and Anaerobic Soil Disinfestation (ASD) in Florida Strawberry Production]]>Tue, 11 Jan 2022 08:00:00 GMThttp://www.agmetricsgroup.com/news-updates/combining-soil-solarization-with-conventional-chemical-fumigants-and-anaerobic-soil-disinfestation-asd-in-florida-strawberry-production
Frank Sances, Balaji Aglave, Mark Keeley, Kaleb Williams, & Charlie Boone
Picture
Click Image to Download
Introduction
This "Proof of Concept" field demonstration  is intended to evaluate the suitability of using solar radiation to enhance soil borne pest control with Conventional Fumigants and Anaerobic Soil Disinfestation in commercial Florida strawberry production.

​Potential benefits:
a) Solarization and ASD are approved organic soil pest control options
b) Solarization with conventional soil borne pest control inputs may allow reduction in chemical usage
c) ASD is a potential waste recycling system
Methodology
Alternate use of clear plastic for summer solarization with chemical fumigants and ASD, then summer plastic replaced with black plastic mulch just prior to planting.  Crop finished with black mulch.
Summary of Findings To-Date
  1. This preliminary study and early season results  are insufficient to fully evaluate treatment effects on soil borne pest management (Table 2) and total potential yields. Full season results will be available June 2022.
  2. Clear plastic mulch used was damaged by warm soil fumigation which may underestimate the potential efficacy of fumigants applied during solarization (Data not shown).
  3. Early season plant growth and root development  were numerically improved by solarization except in the K-PAM treatments (Table 1).
  4. Nutsedge control was generally superior with solarized chemical fumigation, but ASD performed better under black plastic compared to clear over summer months (Photo & Table 3).
  5. Total early season fruit yields (7 harvests) were similar among treatments, but lowest for non-inoculated solarized plots.
  6. Conventional grower practice yields were highest overall, although ASD + Solarization was also high yielding (Chart 1).
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<![CDATA[In the Western US: Pest Management Research - Perennial California Crops with Pacific Ag Research]]>Thu, 08 Jul 2021 21:48:43 GMThttp://www.agmetricsgroup.com/news-updates/in-the-western-us-pest-management-research-perennial-california-crops-with-pacific-ag-research
Pacific Ag Research logo - Ag Metrics Group
  • New High Density Apple Plantings - San Luis Obispo & Salinas Stations
  • New Experimental Vineyard planted in the Monterey County Fog Belt
  • New Almond Orchard for on-site trials at Five Points Station near Fresno
High Density Apple Plantings: Pacific Ag Research (PAR) has two new high density apple test systems, one at its San Luis Obispo station, and one at its Salinas location (2022) in the fog belt near Castroville. These sites provide highly favorable environments for foliar diseases and uniform field test conditions. The plantings are unique to PAR and offer research managers a dependable high pressure fungal and bacterial test system.
Viticulture Expansion: On the same company property in the Salinas fog belt, a new experimental vineyard has also been established. This site has two disease-sensitive wine grape varietals growing under the highly challenging fungal disease conditions of the site.  With the 2021 addition of this coastal vineyard, PAR now has company viticultural research sites in four California counties (Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Monterey and Fresno), with a total of six wine and table grape varietals.
Chenin Blanc grapes - viticulture expansion at Pacific Ag Research - Ag Metrics Group
Additional On-Station Almonds: At Pacific Ag’s Five Points station, a new almond planting was established for 2022 field trials. The new site contains the usual high-level security and company-managed inputs for on-station trials with high-value test substances.
Pacific Ag Research Almond plantings at Five Points Station - Ag Metrics Group
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<![CDATA[Michigan Ag Research: In the Midwest: Acreage Expansion, Equipment Acquisition, New Construction]]>Wed, 30 Jun 2021 07:00:00 GMThttp://www.agmetricsgroup.com/news-updates/michigan-ag-research-expansion
Michigan Ag Research logo - Ag Metrics Group

  • Additional 150 acres purchased by Michigan Ag Research
  • New heavy-duty New Holland tractors acquired this year
  • New laboratory, shop, and dormitory under construction
New 7,500 sq. ft. Laboratory, Dormitory & Shop
Land: We are proud to announce that Michigan Ag Research (MAR) is now over 200+ acres of irrigated and deer-fenced research farm land. With the addition of this new acreage, MAR can conduct much larger trials, provide more opportunities for crop rotational studies, and even fallow plots where protocols require.
Equipment: Michigan Ag has added two additional New Holland tractors to complete our fleet of light, medium, and heavy-duty tillage and spray tractors. The purchase now allows us to quickly install crop plantings for last-minute projects and to work around inclement weather.
New Holland HD tractors - Michigan Ag Research - Ag Metrics Group
Facilities: To advance toward our objective of having a best-in-class, office/lab campus at Albion, MAR is now in the final stages of construction of a massive 7,500 sq. ft. structure, which will include:
  • Specialized entomology lab facilities
  • Nematology soil extraction and microscopy rooms
  • Low humidity storage rooms for electronics and sensors 
  • Dormitory rooms allowing for on-site technician resources
  • Equipment shop for maintenance of tractors and implements
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<![CDATA[In the Southeast: Promotions and New Certifications of Staff and Facility at Florida Ag Research]]>Thu, 24 Jun 2021 21:27:41 GMThttp://www.agmetricsgroup.com/news-updates/ag-metrics-group-announces-new-hires-and-promotions-for-florida-ag-research
Florida Ag Research Logo - Ag Metrics Group
Frank Sances and Mark Keeley inside the new Insect Pollinator Lab at Florida Ag Research - Ag Metrics Group
Frank Sances and Mark Keeley inside the new Insect Pollinator Lab
  • Mark Keeley was promoted to Director of Regulatory (GLP) Services - Ag Metrics Group
  • Assistant Station Manager Charlie Boone is the Interim Station Manager for Central Florida
  • Kaleb Williams was promoted to Field Operations Manager
  • FAR is now a USDA-approved bio-safety containment facility (APHIS-PPQ/BRS Research)
We are happy to announce promotions and new talent at Florida Ag Research.

Mark Keeley has been promoted to Director of Regulatory Services - Ag Metrics Group, developing the corporation's GLP business nationally. Mark will complete the 2021 bio-efficacy season with FAR.
Assistant Station Manager Charlie Boone is the interim Station Manager. Charlie continues in his supervisory role overseeing the facility's land and labor resources for our Central Florida farms. As an Environmental Horticulturist, Charlie is particularly well-suited to manage FAR's extensive greenhouse, shadehouse, and microplot experimentation programs.
Kaleb Williams recently added his Certified Crop Advisor license to his Pesticide Research licenses and has now been promoted to Field Operations Manager. Kaleb grew up in agriculture and has independently farmed commercial vegetables for several years in Central Florida. Appropriately, he now manages all farming activities for station trials and off-site projects. He continues to oversee his farming and technical staff conducting test substance and trial maintenance applications. Kaleb also leads trial imaging, including drone overflights and colorimetric plot evaluations for field trials.
New for 2021!
Florida Ag now conducts Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. Cubense “Panama Disease” trials on banana.
Florida Ag Research  - Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. Cubense “Panama Disease” trials on banana
Panama Disease
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