The blog, which already is being used extensively by, is emerging as a premiere resource on insect control for row-crop producers throughout Alabama and even the region.

"Throughout his career, Ron has been a consummate distributor of information," Taylor says, adding that Smith grasped the value of a blog even faster than he expected.

Taylor, whose Jackson, Mississippi-based service grew out of a newsletter initially distributed to San Joaquin Valley cotton producers in 1991, says he is encouraging a variety of crop professionals to develop blogs.

However, he's found that Extension professionals are often the most amenable to change.

"What is true of Ron is true of a lot of Extension people," Taylor says. "They speak and often write in ways that are highly conducive to blogging — short, a little entertaining, but to the point."

Anne Adrian, the social media expert who first acquainted Smith with the power of blogging, has noted a similar advantage.

"One of the values of blogging really is its flexibility," Adrian says. "It allows you to write in a way that reaches people. Blogging allows people with a passionate interest in subject matter to express themselves more freely.

"Many researchers and specialists still feel compelled to write as 'the book' has taught us to, but this is no longer the way many people are accustomed to getting information."

Taylor is especially pleased at the traction the blog already seems to have acquired in the two months since its launching. For example, Googling one of the most common southern crop insect phrases — "tobacco budworm peanuts" — reveals a top search engine ranking for Smith's blog.

"It's not a big search term, perhaps, but it is interesting that he's gained a No. 1 spot within the first couple of weeks he was active," Taylor says.