AgriLife Research scientist leads Texas Plant Protection Association in 25th year

Writer: Blair Fannin, 979-845-2259, b-fannin@tamu.edu

COLLEGE STATION – When Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientist Seth Murray talks about the future of agriculture and the Texas Plant Protection Association, he speaks with great enthusiasm on emerging markets and the chemical technology that helps crops fend off diseases and pests.

Murray, who is serving as president of the association, says young scientists, producers and individuals throughout the agriculture industry often turn to the association first for information.

“As we look to building the audience, historically we’ve focused on the major row crops and the chemical side of things really well,” he said. “And we’ve brought in turfgrass and horticultural crops. As we look to grow the association, the Texas wine industry is an example of a rapidly expanding market where there’s a need for new information on protecting those species, maybe even moreso than row crops. I think that’s one area where we are going to build our audience with diversification, variety and specific topical information.”

Dr. Seth Murray, Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientist. (Texas A&M AgriLife Research photo by Blair Fannin)

Dr. Seth Murray, Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientist. (Texas A&M AgriLife Research photo by Blair Fannin)

The 25th annual meeting is scheduled Dec. 10-11 in Bryan at the Brazos Center. Murray, who joined AgriLife Research in 2008, is one of the emerging research scientists headquartered in College Station and charged with overseeing all aspects of corn breeding and research activities.

He said new technologies in row crops and emerging crops will weigh heavily into future meeting content to attract new members.

“My expertise is on genetics and varieties, and how their selection protects the crop,” he said. “The Texas Plant Protection Conference is important in that it makes attendees aware of many different types of protection. For example, an area that the TPPA has focused on in the past is reducing corn aflatoxin by applying atoxigenic fungus strains to the crop, such as Aflaguard or AF36. With recent drought stress, these continue to increase in importance. People are really getting interested in them and they may be almost required for insurance purposes.

“On the other hand, you have ALS herbicide tolerant hybrids in sorghum, which generated strong initial interest, but are not yet farmer available to my knowledge. In the future, I think we will also hear more about precision agriculture. I think it’s slowly being integrated, but not fully recognized yet. The equipment is definitely there, but has yet to catch on by the masses.”

The annual TPPA conference wouldn’t be possible without a number of individuals stepping forward to plan presentations that fit current issues facing the agricultural industry, Murray said.

“It’s everybody coming to the table from the public and private sector to put these conferences together.”

Murray said without TPPA’s founder Ray Smith and longtime organizer Bob Sasser, it would not be a conference and it wouldn’t have been around now for 25 years.

“TPPA is an important component of A&M outreach for both AgriLife Research and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service,” Murray said.  “It’s a good forum for the applied research to get presented, and important for Extension and research. Some of the research may be a bit above the average grower, but it’s a good opportunity to ‘train the trainer’ since there are so many members that represent industry, academia and farmers.

“Too, there are not too many meetings like this one, since many are a grower field day or strictly a scientific meeting. TPPA is somewhere in the middle. That’s what makes this association very special and unique.”

More information about the conference can be found at http://tppa.tamu.edu

 

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