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‘Nose Knows Scouting’ from Dayton, Wyoming

Using dogs to find Potato Virus Y and other maladies in potatoes

Andrea Parish of Dayton, Wyoming, is the owner of ‘Nose Knows Scouting’. She runs a crew of five dogs trained by herself. Parish is married to a potato crop consultant and a friend of Asunta “Susie” Thompson, an associate professor and potato breeder in the North Dakota State University Department of Plant Sciences. In fact, the dogs are the latest high-tech tool for diagnosing crop disease.

Parish and one of her dogs, Zora, recently flew to Fargo, North Dakota, so that Zora could sniff her way through the North Dakota State University potato seed development program, looking for a potato disease known as Potato Virus Y, or PVY.

NDSU staffers brought potato bags out of coolers for the dog to peruse. Zora considered dozens of bags. Top, sides, flipped over and sniffed again. When she found PVY, she’d switch to ‘alert’; pointing and freezing. She only 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.


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