North America, Pests and Diseases

‘Nose Knows Scouting’ uses trained dogs to sniff out Potato Virus Y

Good news: the newest ‘high-tech tool’ for diagnosing crop disease is also man’s best friend — a friendly dog.

Specifically, it’s a crew of five dogs trained by Andrea Parish of Dayton, Wyoming, owner of “Nose Knows Scouting,” as Mikkel Pates reports for AgWeek. Parish and one of her dogs, Zora, flew into Fargo, North Dakota, so that Zora could sniff her way through the North Dakota State University potato seed development program, looking for Potato Virus Y (PVY).

In a “swirling wind” (not helpful), Zora considered dozens of bags. Top, sides, flipped over, and sniffed again. When she found PVY, she’d go “alert,” behavior — pointing and freezing. She comes off alert when Andrea gives her a “click” or praise.

Zora evaluated NDSU’s entire seed program in half a day. Thompson said it is a tremendous savings of people and resources that can be aimed at other tasks.

In the field, the dogs can detect infected plants that are 4 inches to 6 inches tall, up to 60 feet away. “We now have PVY and ring rot dogs,” Parish said. “They can identify the virus in small amounts so they don’t have to core it.”

She has worked in potato warehouses across the country, from Maine to Washington states. It takes only about five days to “train odor” for a receptive dog. The best dogs are the longer-nosed, “floppy-eared” breeds.

Among the diseases that could be in the future for the company are: nematodes, potato wart, and powdery scab.

Source: AgWeek. Read the full story by Mikkel Pates here
Photo: Andrea Parish of Dayton, Wyoming, sniffs bags of potato seed tubers for disease in the North Dakota State University potato breeding program, as NDSU potato breeder Asunta “Susie” Thompson and technician Kelly Peppel look on. Photo taken May 17, 2022, at Fargo, North Dakota. Credit and courtesy Mikkel Pates | AgWeek
Nose Knows Scouting website: Nose Knows Scouting
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