Now in its second year of statewide service, Extension's Distance Diagnostics system continues to help rural and urban Illinois residents get quick and accurate diagnosis of their plant and pest problems. Since last June, 1,100 samples have been posted to the system.|
The system uses digital cameras and microscopes that have been placed in all Extension field offices and a web-based management system. Extension staff in the local offices will take digital images of the problem or pest with the camera and microscope and post them to the system's website. University of Illinois Extension educators and specialists can then make a diagnosis.
The process is similar to sending a sample to the plant clinic. You fill out a background sheet of information about the problem, but instead of packing it up for shipping, you send the information and images electronically. Our goal is a 1-day response time. So far about 70% of samples are diagnosed within 1 day, and 80% within 2 days. One remarkable statistic is that 25% have been diagnosed within 2 hours.
Weed and insect identifications are some of the principal types of samples received; sick, damaged, and stressed plants are also submitted.--Dennis Bowman