Now that we’re knee-deep in strawberry season, many growers owe Clyde Fraisse and Natalia Peres a debt of gratitude. About a decade ago, Peres saw a need for a fungicide decision-support tool. Farmers sprayed about every week to control strawberry diseases known as anthracnose and botrytis during the growing season, which goes from November through March in Florida.
Peres, a UF/IFAS professor of plant pathology, knew that calendar-based spraying wasted money for the grower and led to increased risk of fungicide resistance. So, she approached Fraisse, a UF/IFAS professor of agricultural and biological engineering.
Fraisse and his team used innovative agrometeorological approaches to develop a web-based tool that was released in 2011 using disease models developed by Peres and her group. Known as the Strawberry Advisory System (SAS), it uses data such as temperature and leaf wetness to tell growers when to spray fungicide.
Flash forward about nine years, and now, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has recognized Fraisse for his work on the development of an app, which gives growers alerts straight to their cellphones or computers about when to spray for fungi that imperil their crops.