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National Soilborne Disease Research

Dr. Soum Sanogo, professor of fungal plant pathology at the College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences (ACES) at New Mexico State University (NMSU) heads up a research project targeting Phytophthora blight, a soilborne plant pathogen that destroys various plants and vegetable crops and has a huge economic effect on producers.

Our team in the Department of Innovative Media Research and Extension (IMRE) worked with Dr. Sanogo to produce multimedia products to help communicate the situation and what is being done to address it:

  1. A simulated animation of the life cycle of Phytophthora blight.

2. An informational video of a chile field, in the Mesilla Valley in Las Cruces, New Mexico,

infected by the disease.

3. A video showing the Soilborne Disease Research Laboratory at the College of ACES at

NMSU, where Dr. Sanogo and his assistants conduct research on the pathogen.

Our team also created a branded website to convey details of the Phytophthora research at NMSU and host the videos and animation.

Dr. Sanogo’s four-year research project is funded by a $6 million grant allocated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The research project includes a collaborative team of agricultural scientists from the University of Illinois, University of Florida, University of Arizona and Texas A&M. Scientists are investigating various risk factors, such as soil health, moisture levels, host resistance and fungicide resistance to determine effective ways to keep crops safe from the harmful pathogen and fungus. Dr. Ram Acharya, of the NMSU ACES Department of Agricultural Economics and Agricultural Business, will study the research data shared with chile producers, and find out how this information affected their yields and how it impacted the economics of the chile industry.

A diagram showing the Philosophy of Disease Management.

The research conducted by the team is important to crop producers across the country, as well as farmers in New Mexico, where most of the nation’s green chile is grown. Chile is a high-value crop in the state, in 2022, 53,000 tons of chile was harvested with an estimated value of more than $46 million dollars (U.S. Department of Agriculture). Despite this, production numbers have actually dipped in recent years. Growers have faced economic hardships, with rising labor costs and market competition, and in addition, chile growers have dealt with diseased crops due to Phytophthora blight.

Vince Hernandez, agronomist for a local chile company in the Mesilla Valley understands the negative impact this plant disease can have on chile producers:

“Phytophthora is very important economically, if you lose your plants to Phytophthora it is totally useless for processing. A farmer can lose anywhere from a small percentage, to 50% or more of a chile field... Farmers would like to minimize this, to where there is no Phytophthora or a smaller percentage.“

Image of three men in a chile field .

The Department of Innovative Media Research and Extension has extensive experience working with scientists and researchers who need a video or an animation to support their grant funded research. Art Ruiloba and Tomilee Turner, video producers for IMRE, welcome these collaborations. They say it’s an opportunity for them to learn more about our agriculture industry, meet the researchers and scientists who serve our college and university, and it’s a path to make a contribution to agricultural research that may improve the lives and livelihood of producers.

View the videos and other educational outreach materials here:

Written by Art Ruiloba, Videographer


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