Primary Focus of FPDN

Given the enormous range of land over which Florida farms, forests, rangelands and agriculture related facilities are dispersed, it is critical that we have a similarly widespread capacity to detect, diagnose, and respond to intentional and accidental introductions of plant diseases, insects and other pests.

Both the National Plant Diagnostic Network (NPDN) and the Southern Plant Diagnostic Network (SPDN) are providing a cohesive system to quickly detect pathogens and other pests that have been deliberately or accidentally introduced into agricultural and natural ecosystems, identify them, and report them to appropriate state and federal responders and decision makers.

UF/IFAS have a long and trusted relationship with those involved in Agriculture. UF/IFAS has an existing infrastructure (the Cooperative Extension Service) that interacts closely and rapidly with growers, Ag Industry and urban clients. It makes good sense to capitalize on IFAS expertise—a staff of plant scientists with vast experience in integrated pest management with well-equipped plant disease and other pest diagnostic labs.

The UF/IFAS has established the Florida Plant Diagnostic Network (FPDN), a plant pest diagnostic and reporting system, which will help first detectors submit plant samples, digital images, and detailed crop information for pest diagnosis.

Strengths of this system include:

Rapid evaluation and reporting of potential pest threats, quick response time for diagnosis, specifically real-time consultation with experts through DDIS, Web-based, secure communications links among regional and national diagnostic labs, established links to regulatory agencies including APHIS and FDACS, high quality and uniformity of information associated with samples, high quality record keeping and reporting of pest outbreaks, trained network of “First Detectors” (or First Responders).

The FPDN focuses on: Diagnostics, DDIS (Distance Diagnostics and Identification Systems) and the creation of a state-wide real-time FPDN database, training of first detectors, value of diagnostics, and coordination of plant biosecurity activities with state and federal agencies.

Federal and state agencies monitor U.S. borders for plant pest introductions and watch for pest outbreaks throughout the nation. Still, new pests often are first detected by those involved in crop production, and identified by professionals at land-grant universities and state diagnostic labs.

The FPDN has established a network of First Detectors as a component of the regional and national training program. First detectors are an integral part of the system and include:

  • Growers
  • Cooperative Extension Service personnel
  • Crop consultants and pesticide applicators
  • Commercial chemical and seed representatives
  • Master Gardeners

The FPDN is providing training to first detectors on proper techniques for sampling, monitoring, and identifying pests and procedures for reporting pest problems. First detectors through county extension service will have access to the web-based diagnostic system and can report unusual pest occurrences, existing crop conditions or other information through the distance diagnostics and identification system (DDIS) and FPDN dataase.