Extension Specialist for Diseases of Field Crops, with Emphasis on Corn and Soybeans
Dr. Dean Malvick is an extension specialist that was hired in 2005 to address disease problems in soybean and corn, as well as alfalfa to a small degree. He develops and delivers educational programs across Minnesota regarding the characteristics of crop diseases and strategies for managing them using effective, economic, and environmentally sound strategies. Yields of soybean and corn vary annually across the region due largely to weather and disease. His extension education program has two central elements. One is to spread knowledge that can be used in the near term to improve disease management. The second part is to teach the biology of diseases and pathogens. With the second part, he strives to empower audiences with knowledge of plant pathology principles that they can use to understand different agro-ecosystems and to develop specific management practices. Audiences should understand how and why disease develops in basic biological terms, just as automobile mechanics should understand how engines function rather than simply knowing to replace a part. This also enables him to build foundational knowledge of plant pathology for clientele around the state.
The extension audience is diverse and has different learning styles and needs, and his extension education program employs many approaches and activities. This includes face-to-face organized programs and workshops throughout Minnesota and the region, written reports and bulletins, news releases and newsletter articles, new publications to fill information needs, and interviews for radio, trade magazines, and newspapers. This creates a large multiplier effect for his efforts. For example, he has presented lectures in over 40 cities and towns across Minnesota and in the past five years has delivered over 140 lectures directly to nearly 7,000 individuals. This was supplemented by thousands of email and telephone consultations regarding crop diseases over the same period.