Extension/Outreach Overview

The University of Wisconsin Division of Extension is the outreach arm of the University of Wisconsin System.¬† The UW-Madison Division of Extension provides statewide access to the resources and research of the University of Wisconsin, other universities and the United States Department of Agriculture, so that people of Wisconsin can learn, grown and succeed at all stages of life.¬†¬†The UW-Madison Division of Extension carries out the tradition of the Wisconsin Idea ‚Äď extending the boundaries of the university to the boundaries of the state.¬† ¬†

Similar forms of outreach, scholarship and service are conducted by other, non-Extension faculty and staff throughout the UW System, including UW-Madison.  

UW-Madison Extension and outreach activities support educational programs for farmers, businesses, communities, families and youth. 

Professor Amanda Gevens Lectures at an Outreach Event
Professor Amanda Gevens Lectures at Lelah Starks Seed Potato Farm Field Day in Rhinelander WI. Photo by Joe Kertzman/Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association.
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Professor Paul Koch Lectures at Field Days at OJ Noer Turfgrass Research Center
Professor Paul Koch Lectures at Field Days at OJ Noer Turfgrass Research Center. Photo by Michael P. King/UW‚ÄďMadison CALS.
A future plant pathologist in the making.
A future plant pathologist in the making at Family Hort Day.
Prof. Damon Smith (Left) Lectures at Arlington Field Days in Arlington, WI. Photo by Anders Gurda, UW-Madison Plant Pathology.
Prof. Damon Smith (Left) Lectures at Arlington Field Days in Arlington, WI. Photo by Anders Gurda, UW-Madison Plant Pathology.

Extension Specialists in the UW-Madison Department of Plant Pathology

Extension specialists on campuses of the University of Wisconsin System teach, conduct original applied research and interpret research of other scholars in response to local and state needs. These specialists provide statewide educational leadership in their disciplines and serve as resources to extension offices, state agencies, the legislature, professional associations, business and industry and other state and national groups.

The department has six extension specialists:

  Area Name Detailed Area Description
Damon Smith Crops, Field Damon Smith Epidemiology and management of field crop diseases
Leslie Holland Crops, Fruit Leslie Holland Etiology and integrated management of diseases of fruit crops
Erin Silva Crops, Organic and Sustainable     Erin Silva Organic and Sustainable Cropping Systems
Amanda Gevens Crops, Potato and Vegetable Amanda Gevens Diagnosis, biology, and management of fungal and other pathogens of potato and vegetable crops in Wisconsin
Paul Koch Turf Paul Koch Turf pathology
Brian Hudelson Plant Disease Diagnostics Brian Hudelson Identification of non-turf plant diseases and delivery of information on disease control

Extension Plant Pathology Programs and Resources

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+Field Crops Pathology

Field Crops Pathology

Damon SmithThe UW Field Crops Pathology team focuses on the biology, epidemiology, and management field crop diseases. Information and potential solutions to disease problems are evaluated using both applied and basic research. Field studies include station and on-farm research to test epidemiological models, evaluate pesticides, and improve our practical and biological understanding of various plant pathogens. The information generated by research directly services the extension program.  We develop, evaluate, and disseminate solutions to many of the disease problems associated with soybeans, corn, and wheat. We work closely with county extension agents, crop advisors, agribusinesses, and commodity groups. We develop disease management fact sheets, outreach courses, and electronic education resources.  We take an integrated approach to disease management using improved host resistance, cultural management, and chemical control techniques. One of our main research and extension efforts is the development and improvement of disease forecasting systems that can be used to accurately advise fungicide applications. Reducing or eliminating fungicide applications through the use of integrated disease management is profitable for the grower, and is a positive step toward sustainability in 21st century agriculture.

+Fruit Extension Pathology

Fruit Extension Pathology

Leslie HollandThe mission of our lab is to understand the etiology of diseases and the epidemiology of pathogens destructive to fruit crops in Wisconsin to provide management solutions to stakeholders. Our program specializes in applied plant pathology, mycology, chemical control, and stakeholder education. We work with fruit growers in Wisconsin and the upper Midwest to enhance crop protection practices by identifying disease concerns and optimizing management approaches using an integrated approach. 



+Organic and Sustainable Agriculture

Organic and Sustainable Agriculture

Erin Silva

The Organic Grain Resource and Information Network (OGRAIN) offers an educational framework for developing organic grain production in the Upper Midwest. Whether you farm 10 acres or 10,000, are an experienced organic grower or just considering the transition to organic, OGRAIN provides learning opportunities to improve your organic row crop and small grain operation. From weed control to marketing, grain storage to termination of specific cover crops, the OGRAIN community of experienced growers, researchers, industry experts and others is here to support you.

OGRAIN works with university researchers, extension experts, and community partners to develop and share resources, build relationships, and connect with farmers and other organic grain stakeholders. UW-Madison partners include the Cereals Breeding and Quantitative Genetics and Seed to Kitchen Collaborative programs, as well as nonprofit stakeholders including the Artisan Grain Collaborative, MOSES, and Michael Fields Agricultural Institute.

+Turfgrass Pathology

Turfgrass Pathology

Paul Koch

The overall goal of the Koch Lab’s Extension Program is twofold:

1. To disseminate science-based solutions to current problems facing the turfgrass industry out to general public and to turfgrass managers in Wisconsin and elsewhere in an innovative and efficient manner.

2. To funnel current and anticipated future problems facing the turfgrass industry into the research program so that research can be developed to address those problems.

Future extension initiatives will include reduced-input or reduced-risk turfgrass management, and will rely heavily on collaborative input and discussion among people within and outside of the turfgrass industry to make them successful.

The Turfgrass Science Tools page provides tools for the public and commercial turfgrass managers to help understand and manage their turfgrass needs.

+Vegetable Pathology

Vegetable Pathology

Amanda GevensAs the UW-Extension Potato and Vegetable Pathologist, my program supports vegetable growers by providing research-based recommendations for controlling diseases during production and in storage. My research program directly feeds into my extension work. Along with a team of UW vegetable production scientists across departments, I extend knowledge through grower educational meetings, through our UW Vegetable Crop Updates Newsletter (https://vegpath.plantpath.wisc.edu/category/newsletter/) distributed online and by email, through direct email or phone consultations, and through one-on-one visits and discussion. The connections between researchers and growers are strong in WI, with growers providing extensive intellectual and farm resources in contribution to world-class applied and basic agricultural research.

+Wisconsin Seed Potato Certification Program

Wisconsin Seed Potato Certification Program

Healthy seed potatoes are the key to success for potato growers and seed potato certification helps growers raise a profitable crop.

Bucky Potato LogoSince 1913, the Wisconsin Seed Potato Certification Program (WSPCP) has inspected and certified Wisconsin seed potatoes. The WSPCP, which is in the UW-Madison Department of Plant Pathology, started as a collaboration between farmers and UW faculty. Both the Wisconsin Seed Potato Improvement Association and the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture and Consumer Protection also provide program oversight.

Our goal is to provide potato farmers with seed potato planting stock that is healthy and without varietal mixture.

We do this through inspections and laboratory testing of the seed potato crop and through the expertise of Wisconsin seed potato growers. Early generation seed potato stocks produced in our potato tissue culture laboratory and at the Lelah Starks Elite Foundation Seed Potato Farm aid in this endeavor by providing Wisconsin farmers with a reliable source of healthy seed potatoes.


+UW Integrated Pest and Crop Management

UW Integrated Pest and Crop Management

The University of Wisconsin¬†Integrated Pest and Crop Management (IPCM)¬† programs‚ÄĒNutrient and Pest Management Program (NPM) and¬†Integrated Pest Management Program (IPM)‚ÄĒwork cooperatively to address critical issues regarding pest management, pesticide use, and nutrient management by Wisconsin farmers and landowners.

Other Plant Pathology Faculty with Outreach Activities

The following faculty perform significant outreach activities in the areas of nematology and vegetable production:

  Area Name Detailed Area Description
Ann MacGuidwin Nematology and
Vegetable Pathology
Ann MacGuidwin
Professor Emeritus
Nematology ‚Äď Population ecology of nematodes with emphasis on nematode pests of agricultural crops and nematode-fungus interactions causing plant diseases.
Doug Rouse Vegetable
Douglas Rouse
Professor Emeritus
Plant disease ecology and epidemiology.

Diagnostic Labs

The department has three diagnostic labs.

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+Plant Disease Diagnostic Clinic

Plant Disease Diagnostics Clinic


The Plant Disease Diagnostics Clinic (PDDC) provides assistance in identifying plant diseases and provides educational information on plant diseases and their control.

PDDC clients include agricultural and horticultural producers (e.g., farmers, nursery owners); agricultural and horticultural professionals (e.g., crop consultants, arborists); home gardeners; Extension staff and Master Gardener volunteers and state and local government (e.g., Wisconsin DNR, city and county foresters)

+Turfgrass Diagnostic Lab

Turfgrass Diagnostic Lab

TDL LogoThe Turfgrass Diagnostic Lab (TDL) provides fast and accurate diagnostic information and management recommendations for all turf health issues concerning both commercial turfgrass managers and homeowners. Proper diagnosis and management can provide a lush, healthy stand of turf with limited pesticide applications that will benefit the environment, increase property values, and allow for recreational activity. The Turfgrass Diagnostic Lab is a nonprofit service supported by faculty and staff in the departments of Plant Pathology, Horticulture, Soil Science, and Entomology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Educating the Public

Wisconsin Fast Plants

Wisconsin Fast Plants provides learning materials and classroom activities for all ages to use. The materials have been used by K-16 teachers around the world for nearly 30 years as an educational model-organism.

What’s Eating My Plants?¬†

Founded in 2010 by Plant Pathology graduate students, the organization is dedicated to bridging the gap between the University and the greater Madison community. The students visit Family Science Nights at schools, community centers, and Saturday Science at the WID throughout the year.


Brian Hudelson of the Plant Disease Diagnostic Clinic consults with a client at the Wisconsin Garden Expo.
Brian Hudelson, Director of the Plant Disease Diagnostic Clinic, consults with a client at the Wisconsin Garden Expo.