The Pathways Survey looks for new and emerging pests in our local agriculture through a combination of pheromone-baited insect trapping and visual inspection. Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) staff visit survey sites biweekly throughout each growing season to monitor for pests and interact with growers about pests of concern. The Pathways Survey was first conducted in 2014 by the Pest Detection and Management Unit of the Plant Protection Division of the MDA, and is currently entering its third season of monitoring. Funding for this multi-pest, early detection survey comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Bill.
The survey is conducted at community gardens, community supported agriculture (CSA) farms, and small immigrant farms across Minnesota in both urban and rural areas. Emphasis is placed on population centers, where new pests are likely to be introduced due to the number of pathways by which invasive species can be moved by humans. The metropolitan areas of Minneapolis-St. Paul, Duluth, Rochester, Mankato, and St. Cloud are each represented in the survey. In the 2015 season, a total of 95 sites, including 61 community gardens and 34 farms participated.
The MDA works with the USDA and the University of Minnesota (U of M) to identify insects and pathogens that might pose the greatest risk to Minnesota agriculture. Pests are assessed using criteria such as the following:
Each year, the list of target species that are monitored for in the Pathways survey is revised as new information becomes available.
Pheromone-baited traps and visual inspections are used to monitor for insect species, insect life stages, and host damage. Plants are also inspected for symptoms of plant diseases, and tissue samples are removed from plants showing symptoms of target pathogens for diagnostic lab testing.
Not all pests pose the same level of threat to Minnesota agriculture; as such, when a pest is found our response varies.
In addition to education, outreach, and potential regulatory consequences upon finding a new pest, the MDA also works to track pests after they have arrived in Minnesota to determine their spread and scope within the state.
In 2015, the Pathways Survey detected bacterial wilt and canker of tomato (Clavibacter michiganensis subsp. michiganensis), late blight of tomato and potato (Phytophthora infestans), and spotted wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii).
Results from previous years will be archived on MDA's website. View results for the 2014 Pathways Survey.
The Pathways Survey has expanded in 2016 to include work in vineyards and berry farms in addition to the vegetable gardens and farms included in previous years. Insects and pathogens being monitored at sites during 2016 include the following:
The Pathways survey allows for meaningful interaction between growers, the public, and the MDA in regards to invasive species. It is our hope that the survey will continue to facilitate a partnership with the community to protect our local agriculture systems. Additionally, an early detection of a new pest provides the best opportunity for mitigating its impact on our state.
Last Updated: August 23, 2016