STORIES in Agriculture and Life Sciences

Article Title

The Doctor Is In


Brian Meyer


A perfect day for Alison Robertson would have her standing in a corn or soybean field under a scorching sun, swimming in high humidity and taking questions from farmers. "I love those summer months," says Robertson, an assistant professor of plant pathology with research and extension responsibilities in field crop diseases. "I'll take those days over any other." She listens carefully to questions posed by corn and soybean growers. Many times they are seeds that germinate into new research. Take white mold. "2009 was a bad year for the disease. In 2011, many growers will return to those hard-hit fields," says Robertson. "The Iowa Soybean Association recently funded a proposal of ours to research ways to improve white mold management. A lot of the ideas in our proposal came from growers, including evaluating the effectiveness of a biological control and of spraying fungicides." Another good example resulted from hailstorms that shredded corn fields in 2009. "We got a lot of questions about car rots and mycotoxins," she says. "As a result, we studied how hail affects grain quality and disease, which was recently published."