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A new study showed that by following action thresholds to determine when to apply insecticides to control onion thrips, farmers made 2.3 fewer applications per season while maintaining yields and bulb size.

NY onion growers can keep yields while cutting chemical use

By Sarah Thompson  Cornell Agritech

August 1, 2022FacebookTwitterEmailShare

A surprise finding from new research on controlling pests and disease in New York commercial onion fields will enable the state’s producers to cut their use of synthetic chemicals without sacrificing yield.

The study, conducted by scientists at Cornell AgriTech and recently published in the journal Agronomy on May 28, showed that by following action thresholds to determine when to apply insecticides to control onion thrips – a major annual pest – farmers made 2.3 fewer applications per season while maintaining yields and bulb size. Action threshold is the density of the pest in a crop that requires a control measure to prevent the population from increasing to a level that will cause economic loss.

The results of more than three years of field trials also showed that farmers could use 50 to 100% less fertilizer without reducing yields.

“Plots with no fertilizer had no difference [compared to plots with full and half amounts],” said Max Torrey ’13, whose 12th generation family farm in Elba, New York was a trial site for the study. “People were skeptical, but this evidence gives us a lot more confidence in what we need to use.”

Growing onions in the western New York climate requires intensive cultivation and heavy reliance on synthetic fertilizer and pesticides. It’s also done exclusively on muck soils – the dark, fertile footprints of drained swamps. New York farmers grow nearly all 7,000 acres of the state’s dry bulb onions on the muck.

Onions, an important staple in most kitchens, are the fourth most-consumed fresh vegetable in the U.S., behind potatoes, tomatoes and sweet corn. New York growers have an added advantage with this high value crop due to their close proximity to large markets along the Eastern seaboard. But the market varies widely year to year depending on conditions in other growing regions and demand. Diseases and pests, especially the onion thrips, also eat into New York growers’ profits.

The onion thrips—tiny, winged insects that feed on onion plants – have been on Brian Nault’s radar for years. Nault, the study’s senior author and professor of entomology at Cornell AgriTech, said farmers used to rely on cost-effective weekly insecticide spray programs to control thrips. Then, in the late 1990s, thrips began rapidly developing insecticide resistance, because five to eight generations can be produced per year. Thrips also transmit a virus that can kill onion plants and spread bacteria leading to bulb rot.

To help preserve the effectiveness of remaining insecticides, Nault has been fine-tuning action thresholds so New York onion growers can remain profitable while spraying only when pest populations require it.

“The No. 1 reason farmers give for using action thresholds is mitigating the development of insecticide resistance,” Nault says. “The next new, good chemical tool may not come until 2025. They can’t afford to lose this one.”

In his new study, Nault and postdoctoral researcher Karly Regan aimed to further hone their integrated pest management strategy for onion thrips. They knew growers who continued using weekly spray programs instead of action thresholds were taking a significant risk by increasing the likelihood of resistance developing. But Nault also found studies that showed reducing fertilizer amounts could potentially reduce pests in certain crops. He added the factor in test trials.

Nault and his grower partners were amazed to find that the amount of fertilizer applied to an onion at planting had no impact on thrips population levels, bulb rot, or on onion bulb size and yield.

“We didn’t expect this, but it has an even bigger potential impact,” Nault said. “Reducing fertilizer use in commercial farming is beneficial to the environment for so many reasons, especially water and soil health.”

If all New York onion growers used action thresholds, Nault says they’d see a cumulative annual savings of $420,000 in pesticide costs. Already, he’s seen many growers reduce their fertilizer use this year by between 25 and 50% – a major change from applying a blanket amount to every field. Scouting for thrips and soil sampling each year are a little more work, but Torrey says he anticipates saving at least $100 per acre in chemical costs on his 2,200 acres of onions, in addition to the ecological rewards.

“The muck is our livelihood and our future,” Torrey said. “We must take care of it. Now we finally have a proven way to reduce costs and make New York onion growers even more competitive and sustainable.”

This research was supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and Specialty Crop Research Initiative.

Sarah Thompson is a writer for Cornell Agritech.

Food & Agriculture

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How Biocontrols Offer Growers a New Approach to Integrated Pest Management

Carol MillerBy Carol Miller|July 15, 2022

  • Not long ago, the agriculture industry approached biologicals much like they did conventional controls. “A lot of the objectives in the early days of the biological industry was to look at one single component and see how it affected the yield output of a crop,” says Shannon Pike, Business Development Manager at Agrauxine by Lesaffre.

Now the industry understands many factors — some still unknown — work together to protect crops.

“We’re dealing with nature, and nature is very sensitive,” Pike says. “The things that are not seen by us are very, very recognizable to the small elements in nature. Diversity is really the key. Diversity in the soil and the diversity of microorganisms that live on and within the plant is most important.”

To Pike, the best pest control program is holistic.

“Biocontrol products in general will aid the plant’s ability to ward off pests. [Control] products that are also designed for the soil and improving the soil diversity increases the ability of the plant to draw from the soil to help itself. A healthy plant is able to redirect insects and pathogens easily,” Pike says.

Biological products can be incorporated into every stage of production, he says.

“There’s something that can be imported into a protocol for a crop, from prior to seeding all the way to up to harvest time and even afterwards,” Pike says.

For more of this discussion, continue reading the entire article featured as part of our special Global Insight Series report on Biological Crop Protection.

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Carol Miller is the editor of American Vegetable Grower, a Meister Media Worldwide publication. See all author stories here.

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Avatar for Lee Roberts Lee Roberts

 says:

July 16, 2022 at 7:36 pm

Roll back fertilizer prices to 1984 with “SNX30 fertilizer supplement”. Listen to what 3 agronomists, a past Board Member of the New York Farm Viability Institute (and farmer), a Georgia Corn Commission Board Member (and farmer), top NCGA corn yield winners, soil structure and nutrient manager and other farmers say about the unmatched benefits of the “SNX30 fertilizer supplement”. If you can’t believe them, who can you believe? As one farmer said – It almost feels like cheating.

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Going the eco-friendly way to control pests

The rainy season brings a slew of problems for fruit growers, who struggle to save their crops from infestation by pests. The application of insecticides is not very effective and also poses environmental hazards, leading to a negative impact on soil health. Amid these challenging circumstances, the adoption of various eco-friendly techniques for managing pests targeting fruit crops has emerged as a viable option among farmers across Punjab.

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Going the eco-friendly way to control pests

Bagging of guava fruit

Manav Mander

FRUIT cultivation faces a constant threat from insects. Several pests cause damage to fruit production, leading to a loss of yield. Among the pests that impede quality fruit production, fruit flies Bactrocera dorsalis and Bactrocera zonata can cause up to 100 per cent damage in the rainy season to the guava crop, 85 per cent (kinnow), 80 per cent (pear), 78 per cent (peach) and 30 per cent to mango as well as plum.

The application of insecticides is not much effective and also causes environmental hazards, leading to a negative impact on soil health. Amid this scenario, the adoption of eco-friendly techniques for managing insect-pests of fruit crops has emerged as a viable option among farmers across Punjab.

Prominent among these techniques developed by Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana, are the fruit fly trap and the termite trap, while integrated management of snails in the citrus nursery, integrated pest management (IPM) of mango hoppers and bagging for fruit fly management in guava are also being practised.

Popular techniques for saving fruits

PAU fruit fly trap

Fruit fly trap

The PAU fruit fly trap is the most popular of these techniques. Till date, the university has sold around 52,000 PAU fruit fly traps, while 21,500 have been supplied to the fruit growers and government orchards for frontline demonstrations under the National Horticulture Mission (NHM) projects, thus covering an area of 4,600 acres under fruit fly traps. This trap is being adopted by more than 90 per cent of the fruit growers of Punjab, besides being used in kitchen gardens.

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According to Dr Sandeep Singh, Senior Entomologist (Fruits) and team leader for developing these techniques, fruit growers of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh are purchasing PAU fruit fly traps from the university’s Department of Fruit Science.

Eco-friendly management of fruit flies can be done by fixing PAU fruit fly traps at the rate of 16 traps/acre in the second week of April, first week of May, third week of May, first week of June, first week of July and second week of August, respectively. Traps can be re-charged after 30 days, if needed, and one trap costs around Rs 100. It is best suited for the management of male fruit flies in kinnow, guava, mango, pear, peach and plum.

“In the rainy season, guava suffer maximum infestation due to the carry-over of fruit flies from other early-ripening fruit crops — peach, pear, mango, litchi, plum, grapes, loquat, jamun, sapota, pomegranate, fig, banana and papaya — and from vegetable crops, especially cucumber. The fruit fly trap is the most effective and economical way of controlling the menace,” says Gurusewak Singh, a farmer from Malerkotla.

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Termite trap

Termite trap

Termites in the fruit crop no longer bother farmers who use earthen pot-based traps. Eco-friendly management of termites can be done by burying gul (maize cobs without grains)-filled 24-holed earthen pots of 13-inch diameter with lid at the rate of 14 per acre in termite-infested orchards of pear, ber, peach, grape and amla during the first week of April and then in the first week of September. These pots should have their necks outside the soil surface. The pots should be removed from the soil after 20 days of installation and the termites collected should be destroyed by dipping in water containing a few drops of diesel.

A total of 4,578 termite traps have been supplied by PAU to the fruit growers and government orchards for frontline demonstrations under the NHM projects, covering 327 acres.

“I have been using termite traps for the past four years in my orchard. It is an eco-friendly technique as there is no pesticide residue in fruits, soil, plants and environment. The cost of fixing of earthen pots in the orchards is quite cheap (Rs 980/acre). A single pot has the capacity to trap more than 100,000 termites,” says Ravinderpal Singh.

Integrated management of snails in citrus nursery

In this technique, papaya leaves are spread in/around the nursery area to attract snails. Then, the snails are collected and put into a bucket containing salt water to kill them. Wet gunny bags are kept in the nursery area as snails try to hide under them.

IPM of mango hoppers

In this method of integrated pest management, the spray of PAU home-made neem extract and PAU home-made Dharek extract (5 litres per acre) is effective in reducing the population of hoppers in mango.

Fruit fly bagging

The mature green and hard fruits of guava should be covered with a biodegradable white-coloured non-woven bags of 9 inch x 6 inch from June-end to mid-July. For proper bagging of fruits, stapler or needle pins can be used. The bagged fruits should be harvested at the colour-break stage.

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Polyphagous menace

Fruit flies Bactrocera dorsalis and Bactrocera zonata are polyphagous pests that damage various fruit crops and multiply profusely. The female adult fruit fly punctures the fruit at the colour-break stage and deposits its eggs below the epicarp. On hatching, the maggots feed on the soft pulp of the ripening fruits. The punctured portion start rotting and the fruit fall down prematurely. The duration of activity of the fruit flies on mango fruits is from the last week of May to the last week of July. These flies also attack peach, plum, kinnow and guava crops. Isolated orchards are less infested by fruit flies. The duo can cause up to 100 per cent damage in the rainy season to the guava crop, 85 per cent to kinnow, 80 per cent (pear), 78 per cent (peach) and 30 per cent to mango as well as plum.

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Cornell Chronicle

Man walks in field with weed sprayer.
Brian Nault treats potatoes for an experiment to identify alternative insecticides to neonics for potato pest management. 

Entomologists seek safer pest management tech for NYS

By Sarah Thompson Cornell AgriTech

July 19, 2022FacebookTwitterEmailShare

Specialty crop entomologists from Cornell AgriTech and the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program (NYSIPM) will use a three-year, $450,000 grant from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets to evaluate alternatives for controlling insect pests that threaten the state’s $1.4 billion specialty crop industry.

The scientists will explore alternatives to neonicotinoids and chlorpyrifos, which have been shown to harm the environment – as well as pollinators and other beneficial insects – by mounting evidence, including a 2020 analysis of neonicotinoid use in New York by Cornell’s Dyce Lab for Honeybee Studies.

“Cornell is at the forefront of critical IPM research, long working to innovate options for our farmers in managing damaging pests and safeguarding their crops,” said Richard A. Ball, state agriculture commissioner. “The department is proud to support this project that will build on the research underway for our field crops and identify additional solutions to protect our specialty crops and increase economic viability while also protecting the environment.”

After a statewide ban in 2021, the Environmental Protection Agency banned chlorpyrifos earlier this year. Now New York lawmakers are considering actions restricting the use of neonicotinoids, commonly referred to as neonics.

“We have invested a lot of time highlighting the risks and benefits of these chemicals, and now it’s time to help farmers assess alternative pest management solutions and provide better digital tools to improve IPM practices,” said Alejandro Calixto, NYSIPM director and co-director of the grant. “We’re in a place right now where there are big gaps in information.”

To close those gaps as quickly as possible for policymakers and growers, NYSIPM joined forces on an existing specialty crop grant with co-directors Brian Nault, professor of entomology, and Kyle Wickings, Cornell’s turfgrass entomologist, to study alternatives that are easy to use, cost effective and pose minor risks to farmers and environment. Another research team at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is working simultaneously to find alternatives for field crops such as corn, soybeans and wheat.

From western New York to Long Island, Cornell’s specialty crop team will test all currently available options for farmers – biological, cultural, physical and chemical – while evaluating the interactions between different tools. Those interactions are critical, Nault said, because farmers will have to use multiple tools to get the equivalent effectiveness of neonics or chlorpyrifos insecticides. And growers can’t wait five years or more for private industry to develop and gain approval for new insecticides.

“In some crops, we aren’t going to have a one-to-one replacement,” Nault said. “That means growers will need to rely more on other nonchemical approaches but could require another insecticide or two.”

Later this month, Nault expects to have preliminary findings from trials of a promising new class of insecticides to control soil-borne pests in vegetables. He’ll also soon start trials of an RNA-interfering pesticide targeting the Colorado potato beetle.

Right now, turfgrass managers at golf courses and athletic fields can use a free online tool developed by CALS to identify and scout for white grubs. And by the end of the year, Calixto said farmers will be able to run real-time crop risk forecasts for the seedcorn maggot in New York’s fruit, vegetable and field crops using NEWA, an online decision support system combining weather and biological data.

“As we seek greater farm sustainability, it’s important to equip New York growers with the best combination of pest management tools and techniques,” said state Assemblymember Donna Lupardo. “Investing in this research can lead to more reliable and cost-effective options for growers, helping to design approaches that benefit our environment, our agricultural industry and the citizens of our state.”

Sarah Thompson is a writer for Cornell AgriTech.

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Integrated Pest Management farming methods get a boost in Europe

28 June 2022 Alan Bullion

The biologicals market for crop protection products has seen healthy global growth in recent years, but In Europe there is still frustration seen at significant regulatory hurdles to successful product approval.

Sixty years after Rachel Carson wrote her seminal work Silent Spring, there is optimism however that at long last there is a sea-change in the deployment of more environmentally friendly farming methods, as consumers, growers and governments become increasingly aware of the negative impacts of over-use of certain inputs on the land.

The global Biological Control Agents (BCA) market is estimated to be worth around US$3 billion and growing at a rate of 7% per annum. It comprises around 1000 active ingredients (Ais), distributed between four sectors: microbials, plant extracts, semiochemicals and macrobials. Of the four sectors, microbials is by far the largest, accounting for around 60% of the world market.

Europe and North America each account for around one 30% of the market, with BCAs accounting for around 8-9% of each market. Asia and Latin America account for 20% and 16% respectively. Europe has achieved this share despite having a less favourable regulatory environment than most other regions.

Over 500 companies are currently involved in the BCAs market. They range from large, highly diversified companies, agricultural input companies, agribusinesses and specialist biologicals companies, whether start-ups or established.

A large amount of venture capital investment is flowing into the sector, although financiers are highly selective as to the technology adopted and subsequently sponsored, so strong networking and sales skills are crucial to secure market share.

It is no longer sufficient simply to have a good product, as there is an increasing plethora of competitive players. There are lower barriers to market entry for biologicals compared with those for most conventional crop protection products, although the regulatory lead time is lengthening in the EU as scrutiny processes become more stringent. For the leading products there are multiple suppliers and brands, which are potential M&A targets.

EU targets

European Union binding targets just announced to reduce chemical pesticides usage by 50% by 2030 should help to boost interest and market activity, as conventional actives disappear from the marketplace.

But not all conventional Ais can be effectively replaced by biologicals, hence the European Commission has suggested that Integrated Pest Management (IPM) methods, in which a hybrid mix of both biological and conventional AIs is promoted by organisations such as LEAF, should be increasingly adopted by farmers over the next decade or so, as other products are phased out or banned.

There is also optimism that as the UK and French governments start to approve vitamin enhanced gene-edited crops such as potatoes and tomatoes over the next five years that hybrid biological applications will in turn benefit from an IPM scenario.

Regenerative farming methods utilising biologicals to improve natural soil quality and biodiversity should provide a further incentive for biological products, with produce certification providing a price premium, combined with government policy, and interest from global agribusiness companies like Cargill in regenerative crops like grains, cotton and soy growing.

A recent US study showed that regenerative farming systems can provide greater ecosystem services and profitability for farmers than an input-intensive model of corn (maize) production. Pests were ten-fold more abundant in insecticide-treated corn fields than on insecticide-free regenerative farms, indicating that farmers who proactively design pest-resilient food systems can potentially outperform farmers that combat their pests chemically. Regenerative fields had on average 29% lower grain production, but 78% higher profits over traditional corn production systems, by attracting a market premium.

If you are interested in more details of our reports on Biological Control Agents (BCAs) and IPM, please contact Crop Science special reports publisher Dr. Alan Bullion at alan.bullion@s&pglobal.com or 07766 968820. A sample can be found here: Biological Control Agents 2022 | IHS Markit (now part of S&P Global)

Posted 28 June 2022 by Alan Bullion, Director of Special Reports & Projects, Agribusiness, S&P Global Commodity Insights


This article was published by S&P Global Commodity Insights and not by S&P Global Ratings, which is a separately managed division of S&P Global.

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Integrated pest management (IPM): managing crops with natural solutions

This article was originally published on the CABI BioProtection Portal blog. Visit the original blog post here.

A korean man and woman crouch on the ground inspecting some young plants
Improving pest management in agroforestry on sloping land with the Ministry of Land and Environment Protection and Institute of Forest Protection, DPRK. (Image: Keith Holmes, CABI)

Integrated pest management (IPM) is an environmentally friendly approach to managing crops. “IPM is the careful consideration of all available pest control techniques”, the FAO describes on its website. 

Integrated pest management includes implementing various biological, chemical, physical and crop specific (cultural) techniques. This encourages healthy crops and minimizes the use of pesticides. Reducing the use of pesticides reduces health risks to people and the environment. In this way, integrated pest management is a sustainable form of pest management. 

Integrated pest management, as a sustainable form of agriculture, aims to: 

– Manage pest damage in the most economical way 

– Limit impact to people, property and the environment 

– Avoid negative implications for the farmer  

– Improve biodiversity and conservation 

– Protect the human right to food 

How does integrated pest management (IPM) work? 

Integrated pest management programmes include a number of steps. These are pest management evaluations, decisions and controls. 

Growers usually employ a five-step approach while conducting integrated pest management. 

The five steps include:  

  1. Pest identification
  2. Setting an action threshold 
  3. Monitoring
  4. Preventing 
  5. Controlling 
The IPM cycle which shows the five steps of integrated pest management: Pest identification, setting an action threshold, monitoring, preventing, controlling
The 5 key elements of integrated pest management. (Image: ©Carlos Vasquez)

Pest identification for integrated pest management (IPM)

When identifying the weed, insect, or plant disease it is ideal to have a sample of the pest. This ensures it is identified correctly. 

Use the Plantwise Diagnostic Field Guide. This tool diagnoses crop problems and makes recommendations for their management. 

Or use our Invasive Species Compendium identification guides. Check out the search function. 

Setting an action threshold for integrated pest management (IPM) 

Setting an action threshold is one of the most important aspects of integrated pest management. It is the guideline that indicates when pest levels have been reached (i.e., the number of pests per unit area) to justify starting the tactics to avoid or diminish pest damage. 

When setting action thresholds for your integrated pest management strategy, it is helpful to ask: 

– Is there an economic threat and what is the cost of taking action? 

Unless the pest threshold is exceeded, the grower will not need to take any action. The cost of control should be less than or equal to the estimated losses caused by the pests, if left. 

– What are the risks to health and safety? 

When a pest poses a threat to human health or safety, the action threshold should be reduced. For example, if grain and flour pests are found in food for human consumption. 

– Is there the potential for visual damage? 

Damage in the appearance of any product can cause concern. Damaged products are difficult to sell.  

Monitoring and integrated pest management (IPM) 

The thresholds should be based on regular crop monitoring. Keeping good records of pest populations is important.  

The thresholds could be set based on: 

– The average number of pests caught per trap each week 

– The percentage of damaged or infested leaves or plants discovered during examination 

– The number of pests dislodged for every beat or shake sample 

Thresholds should be flexible. Monitoring and management should be adjusted as needed to find the right threshold for your situation. 

Prevention and integrated pest management (IPM)

Prevention is a key step in integrated pest management. It focuses on how to prevent pest populations from building up to economically damaging levels.  

Integrated pest management aims to prevent pest problems. This method of pest management is often cheaper with better results in the long run. Even if prevention does not eliminate pests, it should lower their numbers. This makes them easier to control. 

Among others, preventive actions include:  

– Crop location  

– Variety selection 

– Strategic planting and crop rotation

– Mechanical, physical, and cultural crop protection methods  

– Water management  

– Optimization of plant nutrition  

– Protecting natural habitats near farmland 

Control and integrated pest management (IPM) 

Pest control is required only if the action thresholds are exceeded.  

Control methods include: 

– Pest trapping 

– Heat/cold treatment 

– Physical removal 

– Biological control

– Pesticide application 

It is important to record pest control actions, to evaluate the success of the strategies implemented. This can be done by keeping: 

– An updated record of each pest control used, including all pesticide applications

– Evidence of what non-chemical control methods were considered and implemented  

– The lessons learnt for preventing future pest problems 

Why is integrated pest management (IPM) important?  

Farmers must produce more crops to meet the demands of a growing global population. To reduce losses and boost yields, agricultural technologies must be continuously improved. The problem is to do so while maintaining environmental protection. 

Integrated pest management is a critical component of the solution. It is used increasingly in developed and developing countries for long-term, sustainable agriculture. It produces sufficient, safe and high-quality food. It also improves farmer livelihoods, and conserves non-renewable resources. 

Plant pathologist Louis K. Prom examines sorghum seeds infected by Colletotrichum sublineolum, the cause of sorghum anthracnose. (Image: ©U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agriculture Research Service (ARS) Photo by Peggy Greb/via Flickr – CC BY 2.0)

What are the benefits of integrated pest management (IPM)? 

The County of Santa Clara in the USA gives a helpful explanation of the overall benefits of an integrated pest management approach. It “integrates preventive and corrective measures to keep pests from causing significant problems, with minimum risk or hazard to humans and desirable components of their environment.” 

Integrated pest management provides multiple benefits not only for people but also for the environment. Public Health Notes discusses some of these benefits, as does Crop Life Benefits include: 

– Lessening negative impacts on biodiversity as well as soil and water resources 

– Lowering health risks for farm labourers 

– Reducing the risk of insect resistance or recurrence  

Additionally, growers who use an integrated pest management approach can achieve these benefits: 

– Increasing crop profits as a result of improved pest control 

– Maintaining market access 

– Reducing the risk of restrictions for their produce due to pesticide residues 

– Increasing public confidence as a result of following safer procedures  


The CABI BioProtection Portal is a free tool to discover natural, registered biocontrol and biopesticides around the world.


Find out more about CABI’s work in IPM:

Plant doctors: fighting crop pests through integrated pest management

CABI’s expertise in Integrated Pest Management shines at 10th International IPM Symposium

MARA-CABI’s Integrated Pest Management course at the Graduate School of CAAS reopens after Covid-19 restrictions

Integrated Pest Management

Principles and Practice

Edited by: Dharam Abrol, Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, Jammu, India, Uma Shankar, Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, Jammu, India

BioProtection PortalIPMIntegrated Pest management

Plant Sciences

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BioProtection Portal benefits showcased at BioProtection Day conference28 September 2021

CABI is a member of:   The Association of International Research and Development Centers for Agriculture

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Saving Nutella: New Guide Details IPM for Weevil Pests in Hazelnut

ENTOMOLOGY TODAY  1 COMMENT

Globally, four species of hazelnut-feeding weevils are known to exist: Curculio dieckmanni (A), Curculio nucum (B), Curculio obtusus (C), and Curculio occidentis (D). (Figure by Hailey Shanovich, originally published in Shanovich and Aukema 2022, Journal of Integrated Pest Management)

By Hailey Shanovich

Hailey Shanovich

People around the globe are nuts about hazelnuts: According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the global demand for hazelnuts is strong and growing. So much so that countries such as China and the United States have been developing their own hybrid hazelnut plants to increase yields and land area in production to get ahead of the demand. Hazelnuts are increasingly used in baked goods and snack foods, and just in the past few years Nutella has seen significant increases in sales.

Among the most damaging insect pests of hazelnuts worldwide are weevils in the genus Curculio. Adult female weevils lay eggs into developing hazelnuts, after which the newly hatched larvae feed on the kernel, the part of the nut that humans eat, until they reach maturity. They destroy the kernel, directly impacting the yield of the crop. (See photos.)

Adult female Curculio weevils drill holes into developing hazelnuts to lay eggs into them (left). Upon hatching, the larvae feed on the developing kernel until they reach maturity (right). Adult and larva shown here are both hazelnut weevil (Curculio obtusus). (Photos by Hailey Shanovich)

In a new guide published in May in the open-access Journal of Integrated Pest Management, my colleague Brian Aukema, Ph.D., and I outline the weevil species’ natural histories, and we provide an overview of what to expect over the coming decades as hazelnut production expands. The existing literature on these species is largely dated and in other languages, so a compilation of these works and a summary of management tactics are indispensable for the growing industry.

Biology

Worldwide, four species of hazelnut-feeding weevils are known, all within the Curculio genus: C. dieckmanni in northeast Asia, C. nucum throughout Europe, the hazelnut weevil (C. obtusus) in eastern North America, and the filbert weevil (C. occidentis) in western North America. All species injure hazelnuts in the same manner, and they all have very similar appearance as both larvae and adults, with the exception of C. dieckmanni adults, which differ in coloration. Curculio dieckmanni and C. nucum already are responsible for devastating yield losses in untreated hazelnut orchards in China and Europe, respectively, while the hazelnut weevil remains the most understudied, since commercial hazelnut production was not possible in its geographic range until the development of cold-hardy and disease-resistant hybrid plants.

Worldwide, four species of hazelnut-feeding weevils are known, all within the Curculio genus, with distinct geographic ranges: C. dieckmanni (red), C. nucum (yellow), C. obtusus (green), and C. occidentis (blue). (Image by Hailey Shanovich)

Management

Management of these weevils is generally approached differently depending on the weevil species, region of hazelnut production, or even country. Control methods have been researched the most in Europe and west Asia, because the majority of commercial hazelnut production has historically occurred there. However, China has been making much headway in developing cultural and biological control strategies for C. dieckmanni. The U.S. has done the least research and development of control methods for its weevil species, as hazelnut production has historically only occurred in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, and C. occidentis, which occurs there, generally prefers endemic oak species and rarely causes economic damage to the crop.

Insecticides. The highest yield reductions in China and much of Europe are observed when hazelnuts are not treated with insecticides. However, many hazelnut growers throughout Europe and Asia do not use chemicals for the control of insect pests, while some have resorted to one spray annually to knock down the weevils during adult emergence. In Turkey, where the majority of the world’s hazelnut production currently takes place, some organic insecticides options have been explored and show promise for control of C. nucum.

Biological control. Naturally occurring insect-pathogenic fungi have been found to be highly effective, and insect-eating nematodes have been found to be effective in controlling C. dieckmanni and C. nucum in the field. Beneficial insect-eating nematodes have also proven successful at killing C. nucum and C. occidentis in the field. As far as insect natural enemies, they appear to be far and few between for these weevils, as the larvae remain safe inside developing hazelnut shells or underground for most of their life cycle.

Cultural control. In terms of cultural control strategies, most in the toolbox are for C. dieckmanni in China. Newly developed hybrid hazelnuts, crosses from the European hazelnut (Corylus avellana) and the Asian hazelnut (Corylus mandshurica), are reportedly resistant to C. dieckmanni. Cultivars of European hazelnut grown throughout Europe are generally susceptible to C. nucum, but a few resistant ones have been identified. Additionally, the attractive plant volatiles and the sex pheromone of C. dieckmanni have been identified, which has led to the production of lures and traps for mating distribution of the species. In Turkey, physical removal of adult weevils, whether by hand or by shaking plants, is reportedly the most popular control method.

Outlook

The significance of hazelnut-feeding weevils will continue to increase as production increases globally. Importation of hazelnuts or movement of hazel plants between countries could spread these Curculio species to new areas, although the invasive potential of these species has yet to be investigated. It is also unknown if other Curculio species not mentioned here could emerge as pests of hazelnuts overtime as production is increased. Future research is needed on the biology, ecology, and management of these weevils, especially C. dieckmanni and the hazelnut weevil, which are each expected to pose economic concerns to China and the United States’ growing hybrid hazelnut industries, respectively.

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The Biology, Ecology, and Management of the Hazelnut-Feeding Weevils (Curculio spp.) (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) of the World

Journal of Integrated Pest Management

Hailey Shanovich is a Ph.D. candidate and research assistant at the University of Minnesota and current chair of the ESA North Central Branch’s Student Affairs Committee. Email: shano004@umn.edu.

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New Guide Highlights IPM for Boxwood Pests

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Organic Coating Gives Cherries a Chance to Fend Off Fruit Flies

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Organic Coating Gives Cherries a Chance to Fend Off Fruit Flies

ENTOMOLOGY TODAY  2 COMMENTS

With an organic, food-grade coating sprayed on cherries in the orchard, western cherry fruit flies (Rhagoletis indifferens) have difficulty gripping the fruit surface to lay eggs. Ongoing research is fine-tuning the coating formulation in hopes of creating a new tool for integrated pest management in cherries. (Photo by madkaplan via iNaturalistCC BY-NC 4.0)

By Leslie Mertz, Ph.D.

Leslie Mertz, Ph.D.

Western cherry fruit flies are a big problem for fruit growers. Female flies poke their sharp, egg-laying structures (the ovipositors) into sweet cherries and lay eggs in the fruit, after which the eggs hatch into maggots that begin feasting on the cherry’s pulp. A large fruit-fly infestation can turn a once-profitable crop into a valueless maggot nursery.

One solution may be a slippery organic coating that prevents the female western cherry fruit fly (Rhagoletis indifferens) from jabbing the fruit with her ovipositor, according to a new research article published in May in Environmental Entomology. It works like this: Once the female lands on the fruit, she needs to lodge firmly with her front two legs and then tip her abdomen upward so she can drive the ovipositor straight down into the fruit, but the coating causes her hind legs to slide off, explains horticultural scientist Clive Kaiser, Ph.D., associate professor of agricultural sciences at Lincoln University in New Zealand and current courtesy faculty of agriculture at Oregon State University. He co-authored the article with research entomologist Wee Yee, Ph.D., of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Yakima Agricultural Research Laboratory.

Clive Kaiser, Ph.D.

Kaiser had already been developing coatings, collectively called HydroShield, to thwart a smaller species of fruit fly—spotted-wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii)—and provide various other crop-related benefits, when Yee asked him if he could make a version to fight the devastating western cherry fruit fly. Kaiser provided an initial coating to try, and Yee noticed that the females’ back legs skated a bit on the coated sweet cherry surface, which cut their ability to lay eggs by about half. Kaiser got to work creating a coating that was smoother and more slippery, and, after several iterations, “we had a really good version that reduced egg-laying quite significantly,” he says.

That version, which is a food-grade (i.e., safe for human consumption) coating primarily made of complex carbohydrates and fatty acids, reduced fly visits and egg-laying by up to 72 percent in the lab, Kaiser says. The researchers also tested it over two years at the USDA cherry orchards in Moxee, Washington, applying the coating three times during the growing season at a concentration of 1 percent. In the first year, they applied the coating with a hand-pump backpack sprayer but found they got more complete coverage of the fruit, as well as a significant reduction in egg-laying, when they switched to a motorized, mist-blower backpack sprayer the second year.

With this success under their belts, the researchers mixed the coating with an organic, botanically derived insecticide called PyGanic, evaluated the combination formulation in the laboratory this winter, and “found 100 percent control of egg-laying and 50 percent mortality of the adults,” Kaiser says, adding that they are planning to present these new results at the 2022 Joint Annual Meeting of the Entomological Societies of America, Canada, and British Columbia in November.

fly oviposition figure
field spray trial figure

In the meantime, they are beginning tests to verify what they believe is an optimal solution concentration and spray schedule for the HydroShield/PyGanic combination: 0.25 percent HydroShield solution applied in two sprays. Kaiser also hopes to run a trial of the HydroShield coating blended with a different organic pesticide, known as spinosad. “PyGanic is a pyrethroid, which breaks down almost instantaneously once it hits its target, so there’s very little residual in the field. I think spinosad has even more promise because it sits on the fruit longer,” he says. The longer residual effect means fruit flies will continue to pick up spinosad from the cherry surface, making them more vulnerable to the pesticide’s killing effects.

At present, HydroShield is not yet on the market, Kaiser says, but some companies have expressed interest in manufacturing it, and he expects interest to mount with continued positive research results, particularly in the combination form with organic pesticides. He adds, “It’s very exciting, and if we can get yet better control going forward, it will be even better for cherry fruit farmers.”

Read More

Evaluation of Organic, Food-Grade Hydrophobic Coatings for Suppressing Oviposition and Increasing Mortality of Western Cherry Fruit Fly (Diptera: Tephritidae)

Environmental Entomology

Leslie Mertz, Ph.D., writes about science and runs an educational insect-identification website, www.knowyourinsects.org. She resides in northern Michigan.

Kaiser photo by Lynn Ketchum, Oregon State University

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New Guide Highlights IPM for Boxwood Pests

ENTOMOLOGY TODAY  LEAVE A COMMENT

Boxwood is one of the most widely planted landscape plants in North America. However, it is not without management challenges, specifically from arthropod and disease pests. One such pest is the larva of the box tree moth Cydalima perspectalis. A new article in the open-access Journal of Integrated Pest Management discusses identification, biology, and management of common boxwood pests. (Photo by Ferenc Lakatos, University of Sopron, Bugwood.org)

By David Coyle, Ph.D.

David Coyle, Ph.D.

Boxwood, while not native to North America, is a common evergreen landscape plant on this continent. It has shown no signs of becoming invasive despite being planted in landscapes as early as 1653! This plant is extremely common throughout the U.S. and many boxwood (Buxus) species and cultivars are used to provide a touch of green in urban, suburban, and rural managed landscapes. Unfortunately, boxwood is susceptible to many different pests, and management of these pests is key to maintaining a healthy landscape.

new article published last week in the open-access Journal of Integrated Pest Management  outlines several different arthropod pests and pathogens that can impact boxwood in landscape settings. I spoke with two of the authors—Karla Addesso, Ph.D., and Fulya Baysal-Gurel, Ph.D., of Tennessee State University—about what these pests mean for boxwood cultivation in the U.S.

Coyle: It seems to me boxwood is so ubiquitous and commonly planted, especially in new developments, that I’m guessing many folks likely don’t even know they have boxwood on their property. Is boxwood one of those “invisible but everywhere” plants, or do you think most people have a better idea of what it is and where it is on the landscape?

Addesso: I also lean toward seeing boxwood as one of those “background” species that are so common they become invisible. They are also easily confused with certain holly shrubs (e.g., Ilex crenata), which are commonly substituted for boxwood in the landscape. Because this plant is so ubiquitous, it is a major revenue generator for the nursery industry.

Baysal-Gurel: Boxwood is the no. 1 evergreen shrub sold in the U.S., valued at $126 million wholesale, and is an iconic species in the American landscape, specifically in boxwood gardens.

Coyle: This is likely why they’re so often unnoticed—they’re everywhere! Of the pests you highlight in your paper, which do you think has the most potential to cause damage, and which one actually does cause the most damage?

Addesso: From the insect side, the box tree moth Cydalima perspectalis is the most devastating pest, particularly if populations completely defoliate the plant. After all the leaves are consumed, caterpillars will feed on bark. Repeated damage to the stem tissue can kill plants, as observed in wild stands of boxwood in Europe. In terms of pathogens, boxwood blight is easily spread and will also wipe out entire stands of boxwood. In a contest between these two pests, boxwood blight is the more challenging management issue, because once it is in a planting it can be difficult to eradicate. The caterpillars, in contrast, can be managed with insecticides if detected before too much damage occurs.

Cydalima perspectalis adult
boxwood damage

Coyle: Are some pests are more common (or more of an issue) in certain regions of the U.S.?

Addesso: Box tree moth is new to North America, so while it is likely to become more widespread in time, its impact is currently limited to the northern border of New York state and Ontario, Canada. The other boxwood pests are widespread wherever boxwood is found.

Coyle: For folks that don’t want to use pesticides, what are some of the best ways to manage insect or fungal pests on boxwood?

Addesso: As with most issues, prevention can be key. Homeowners and landscapers can reduce the risk of disease introduction into the landscape by carefully inspecting plants prior to transplant. Providing boxwood with optimal growing conditions can also reduce pest and disease pressure. This includes proper pruning, fertilization, and irrigation when needed. If traditional chemical controls are not an option, some boxwood issues can be managed by pruning out infested sections or using horticultural soaps, oils, or microbial products.

Coyle: What are some scientific or management advances that would really help the horticultural industry in terms of boxwood pest management?

Addesso: The most effective tool for boxwood pest management may be the breeding of resistant cultivars. Breeding programs for boxwood blight resistance should also screen for resistance to other key diseases and arthropod pests. A more complete picture of boxwood cultivar resistance and susceptibility would allow growers and consumers to make informed decisions about which plants will perform best in their region.

Coyle: Do you foresee an increase in boxwood pests as a result of climate change?

Addesso: If changes in climate alter the optimal range for boxwood plants, it can increase plant stress in those marginal regions, making them more susceptible to pests and disease. Similarly, if some pests, such as the boxwood mite Eurytetranychus buxi, can complete additional generations due to a warmer climate, this can also lead to greater damage in areas where the mite was previously unproblematic.

So, yes, there are challenges to having that perfect boxwood plant or hedge or topiary—but all is not lost! Effective management strategies exist for most boxwood pests. In cases where we don’t yet have good recommendations or where new pests are on the horizon, threatening to impact U.S. boxwoods, rest assured there are pest management specialists and researchers working hard to come up with effective solutions.

Read More

Arthropod and Disease Management in Boxwood Production

Journal of Integrated Pest Management

David Coyle, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Conservation at Clemson University. Twitter/Instagram/TikTok: @drdavecoyle. Email: dcoyle@clemson.edu.

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Pests Stay In, Parasitoids Fly Out: The Augmentorium for Biological Control in IPM

Entomology Today Jun 10 A simple tent equipped with a carefully selected mesh can be a helpful tool in augmentative biological control efforts. With infested fruit placed inside, the mesh keeps pest insects in but allows parasitoids to escape and continue their work as natural enemies of target pests. Read more of this post

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June 8, 2022 

Laura Hollis 

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Apply now for an online course on Integrated Crop Management

Applications for two new Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) in Integrated Crop Management (ICM) are now open. CAS 2: ICM – Aspects of Implementation and CAS 3: ICM –  Biological Control and Ecosystem Services, are the latest courses launched as part of a set of online programmes developed and run by CABI and the University of Neuchâtel in collaboration with partner institutions in Switzerland.

The first programme, CAS 1: ICM – Sustainable Production Practices, was launched last September and is currently running with a cohort of 22 students from 14 countries across Asia, Africa and the Americas.

What is ICM?

ICM is a sustainable agricultural production system that improves overall crop health with minimal impact on the environment. It optimizes yield and profitability and takes into consideration pest management, soil care, seed selection, crop nutrition, water management, rural economics, landscape management, agricultural policy and more. ICM is an important part of sustainable agriculture and these courses promote the adoption of sound crop management principles.

Who are the CAS-ICM programmes for?

Both the CAS 2 and CAS 3 programmes are valuable for scientists, teachers, extension officers, policy makers and post-graduate students who already possess a Bachelor’s degree or at least three years of relevant professional experience in a related field and wish to enrich their ICM knowledge. The topics addressed in this online course are of global relevance and candidates are welcome from any country.

For both courses, learning is based on the proven content and approaches from previous educational activities and professional experience from the past several years.

The educational experience gained from these will facilitate the acquisition of positions in both the public and private sectors, including government, research, universities, advisory services, NGOs and industry.

CAS 2: ICM – Aspects of Implementation

CAS 2 will facilitate exchange between international participants as they explore diverse considerations that are important – but not always obvious – in the field of ICM implementation. This programme addresses implementation issues that are crucial for the successful adoption of ICM practices by farming communities and for sustainable food production.

The programme is structured around seven modules:

Topic 1Topic 2Topic 3Topic 4
Policy considerationsAgricultural
System
Implementation
Agricultural and
Rural Economics
Agricultural
Extension
Topic 5Topic 6Topic 7
Gender in Agriculture
Programmes & Rural
Advisory Services
Experimental Design &
Statistical Methods
Climate Change &
Agriculture: Towards
Climate-Smart Pest
Management

CAS 2 participants will enhance their ability to address critical agricultural issues, in particular recognising and dealing with obstacles and opportunities for ICM adoption in a wide variety of agricultural systems.

The CAS 2 programme is a post-graduate course that counts 10 credit points under the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS).

CAS 3 –Biological Control and Ecosystem Services

This programme takes a close look at ways to apply science-based practices that enhance, rather than degrade, ecosystem services that are crucial for healthy and productive agroecosystems. This learning journey includes a major emphasis on practices that promote biological control of plant pests while protecting vital species like pollinators.

The programme is structured around four modules:

Topic 1Topic 2Topic 3Topic 4
Prevention of Pest ProblemsGreen Direct ControlClassical Biological ControlManaging Landscapes

CAS 3 participants will acquire a broader and deeper understanding of the options available to minimise the use of chemical pesticides, promote biodiversity and create more resilient agroecosystems. Participants’ enhanced capacity to analyse interactions of beneficial species (e.g. natural enemies, pollinators) in agricultural landscapes will better prepare them for promoting nature-based solutions in various agricultural systems.

The CAS 3 programme is a post-graduate course that counts 10 credit points under the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS).

How are the courses run?

The CAS 2: ICM – Aspects of Implementation and CAS 3: ICM –  Biological Control and Ecosystem Services programmes are fully online and will run from September 2022 to June 2023.

Participants who successfully finish all three CAS programes can obtain a Diploma of Advanced Studies (DAS) on completion of an additional technical report.

How do I apply?

For more information on the programme and how to apply, please visit the University of Neuchâtel website.

The deadline for applications is 10th July 2022.

CAS ICMOnline coursecourse

Development communication and extension

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