The purpose of this project is to work with a group of diversified vegetable farmers in the Northeast to evaluate an integrated non-chemical strategy for managing key caterpillar pests in sweet corn. In New England, corn earworm (Helicoverpa zea) migrates annually into the region and causes serious ear damage in late-season corn. European corn borer (Ostrinia nubilalis) is a resident pest of sweet corn which also contributes to ear damage, especially in the later part of the season.
As outlined in our initial proposal our project objectives were as follows: 1) Evaluate in-field refuges for predator conservation and the control of root maggots (Delia spp.) and aphids. 2) Evaluate efficacy of floral plantings for conservation of root maggot and aphid parasitoids. 3) Transmit our findings to growers.
Farmer surveys conducted during the first year of a multi-year research program investigating the diversity and utilization of North-central Florida farmlands by birds demonstrated a great interest by organic producers in the potential impact birds have on insect populations in their cropping systems (Jacobson at al. 2003). They expressed interest in management recommendations designed to enhance the presence and foraging activities of insectivorous birds on their farms. Therefore based upon this interest we developed the following objectives for this study:
The primary objective of this proposal was to determine the ability to produce organically grown alfalfa in areas with significant potato leaf hopper pressure and then to share this capability with organic growers. Specific experimental objectives were:
1. Determine if glandular-haired, PLH resistant alfalfa can be produced organically,
2. Determine if organically grown glandular-haired, PLH resistant alfalfa can reduce PLH density,
The objectives of this study were:
To evaluate the efficacy of high tunnel structures covered with insect excluding materials to reduce insect vectored diseases in an organic production system.
To evaluate the effect of different covering materials on the tunnel growing environment (temperature, relative humidity, and radiation).
To compare costs and benefits of different tunnel covering materials as they apply to plant protection under organic production.
USDA funding of organic farming research and outreach is disproportionate compared to the amount of U.S. certified organic land. According to Organic Farming Research Foundation’s State of the States 2nd Edition, 0.3 – 2% of U.S. farmland is certified organic, but only 0.06% of land grant research acres is certified organic. This project addressed the disparity of organic research and Organic Farming Research Foundation’s goal of obtaining a fair share of research funding for organic foods and farming.
One of the Organic Farming Research Foundation’s stated goals is to “take a systemsmanagement (rather than an input-substitution) approach to solving production problems.” This goal is exactly in line with my research: I am studying the mechanisms of natural pest control to promote systems management rather than input-substitution solutions to pest problems. Inputsubstitution approaches to pest control use organic pesticides in place of the more common conventional chemicals, which farmers have found time and again to be ineffective.
This project addressed a serious pest of organic greenhouse production nationally. In Vermont, thrips are the most common reason for organic growers suspending organic practices in their greenhouse crops, fearing the loss of their entire crop to this persistent virus-transmitting pest. Even growers who rely on chemical control find the standard insecticides ineffective due to resistant pest populations. Biological control approaches for thrips will directly benefit organic producers, but will also meet the need of “traditional” growers who seek to produce plants more ecologically.
Test the hypothesis that biological control of cicadellid and lepidopteran vineyard pests is enhanced through conservation of insectivorous birds via the establishment of songbird nest boxes.
Beneficial insectary planting is a form of conservation biological control that involves introducing flowering plants into agricultural and horticultural systems to increase nectar and pollen resources required by some natural enemies of insect pests (Landis et al. 2000). Many predatory and parasitic insects rely on pollen and nectar for their survival and reproductive success. Two examples of such insect groups are hoverflies (Diptera: Syrphidae) and several species of predatory and parasitic wasps (Hymenoptera).