Sept. 8, 2020
Missouri is home to more than 9,000 Amish individuals across 38 settlements. When University of Missouri Extension agronomist Dhruba Dhakal spoke to Amish leaders from the Clark community, he learned they were struggling with several horticultural issues. Because many Amish individuals do not use electronics, Dhakal knew there was only one thing to do: set up an in-person plant diagnostic clinic.
“From speaking with the producers in person, I realized that if I can visit their farm or do some type of diagnostic program regularly in their community, I could help them manage their crops,” Dhakal said. “In turn, this will minimize environmental pollution, increase their crop yield and enhance the quality of the produce.”
Each week, Dkahal sets up the clinic at Clark Produce Auction — following COVID-19 precautions — and looks at the samples producers bring in. In many instances, he can diagnose the issue on the spot. If he can’t, Dhakal takes pictures and the actual samples to the plant diagnostic lab. In addition to his own knowledge, Dhakal relies on help from MU Extension state and regional horticulturists to diagnose farmers’ produce questions. For the most part, he said, he tries to have a turnaround time of no more than one week for a diagnosis and a list of solutions.
“I will continue this program every week until Oct. 15, as they do the produce auction until that date,” Dhakal said. “I will do this program again next year. And I am looking at expanding to other sites or communities to extend this offering out even further.”