The rice industry has recognized Dr. M.O. ‘Mo’ Way for his dedication in 22 years of rice entomology research and Extension work at the Texas A&M University System Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Beaumont.
Way received the 2004 Rice Industry Award at the Rice Outlook Conference recently in New Orleans. When the award was announced, participants at the conference gave Way a roaring applause.
Dr. James Stansel was resident director at the Beaumont center when Way was hired in 1982, and he was immediately impressed with Way’s strong work ethic. “Because of his dedication and productivity, he is one of the most respected scientists and Extension personnel in the Rice Belt,” Stansel said. “He has a true passion to help farmers.”
According to Way, his resolve to help farmers has grown over time. “The more I have worked in the rice industry, the more my commitment has grown,” he said. “You get to know the farmers, consultants, industry people, USDA officials and fellow scientists on a personal basis. Because of my Extension duties, I have a direct involvement with the industry, and that gives me concrete goals and direction. You know what you are doing has significance and can really be of benefit.”
Way’s responsibilities include developing integrated pest management programs for rice as well as soybeans. His innovative work helped prolong the use of the chemical carbofuran for rice water weevil control.
“His efforts, along with other rice entomologists, paid off because the Environmental Protection Agency allowed U.S. rice farmers to use granular carbofuran for an additional two years until a suitable control alternative was available,” Stansel said. “Meanwhile, he conducted research that sought biological and other alternatives to carbofuran. Data generated from these studies helped convince the EPA to register Karate Z and Icon as the first replacements and then Dimilin, Fury, Mustang Max and Prolex.”
Way is quick to share credit for these achievements, saying, “I’ve been fortunate in having a great staff of technical, clerical and administrative support. Without them, there wouldn’t have been all the achievements. The people I work with are just wonderful, and dedicated to helping farmers.”
Way has served on the USA Rice Federation’s Environmental Affairs sub-committee since 1996. He was chairman or board member of the Rice Technical Working Group from 1994 to 1998. He is past president of the Texas Plant Protection Association and past chairman of S-300, a multi-state regional project dealing with rice insect pests.
Way is known for his frequent on-site visits to farmers’ fields as well as the assistance he gives to farmers, consultants and Extension colleagues. Some of his current research includes developing rice stem borer control. In addition, he and a graduate student are researching an easier and more accurate sampling method for the rice stinkbug. Also, Way is looking at pest pressure on rice grown under conservation tillage.
Way worked with other commodities in California while earning his entomology degrees before moving to Beaumont. He grew up at Bakersfield and earned three entomology degrees, including his doctorate, from the University of California at Davis.
“Way is a leader in his field in terms of interpersonal skills,” Stansel said. “He is very effective at extending his knowledge, expertise and experience to other scientists, Extension personnel, producers and the public.”