EPA Registers the Wolbachia ZAP Strain in Live Male Asian Tiger Mosquitoes

On Nov. 3, 2017, the Environmental Protection Agency registered a new mosquito biopesticide – ZAP Males® – that can reduce local populations of the type of mosquito (Aedes albopictus, or Asian Tiger Mosquitoes) that can spread numerous diseases of significant human health concern, including the Zika virus.

ZAP Males® are live male mosquitoes that are infected with the ZAP strain, a particular strain of the Wolbachia bacterium. Infected males mate with females, which then produce offspring that do not survive. (Male mosquitoes do not bite people.) With continued releases of the ZAP Males®, local Aedes albopictus populations decrease. Wolbachia are naturally occurring bacteria commonly found in most insect species.

This time-limited registration allows MosquitoMate, Inc. to sell the Wolbachia-infected male mosquitoes for five years in the District of Columbia and the following states: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, and West Virginia. Before the ZAP Males® can be used in each of those jurisdictions, it must be registered in the state or district.

When the five-year time limit ends, the registration will expire unless the registrant requests further action from EPA.

EPA’s risk assessments, along with the pesticide labeling, EPA’s response to public comments on the Notice of Receipt, and the proposed registration decision, can be found on www.regulations.gov under docket number EPA-HQ-OPP-2016-0205.

Posted in Insect Management, Press Release, Regulatory Information | Tagged | Leave a comment

Genetic discovery another tool in battle against wheat pests

From IPM in the South

By Rosemary Hallberg

by Kay Ledbetter, Texas A&M AgriLife

Greenbug and Hessian fly infestations can significantly reduce wheat yield and quality in Texas and worldwide. Breeding for resistance to these two pests using marker-assisted selection just got a new tool from a Texas A&M AgriLife Research study.

Because genetics is the most economical strategy to minimize losses, AgriLife Research wheat geneticist Dr. Shuyu Liu began two years ago searching for breeder-friendly markers for those two insects. This step is a continuation of ongoing genetic work on insect resistance.

Through the years, a number of greenbug resistance genes have been identified in wheat and its relatives based on their differential reactions to different biotypes, which range from A through K. There are also 18 Hessian fly biotypes, and because it has the ability to overcome resistance genes deployed in wheat cultivars through mutations, it is necessary to identify and utilize resistance genes from diverse sources for wheat breeding.

Scientists use genetic markers to identify regions where specific genes can be found on a particular plant. Liu has identified the neighborhoods or markers for a gene offering greenbug resistance, Gb7, and a gene that provides Hessian fly resistance, H32, in wheat.

Liu’s work was recently published in the Theoretical and Applied Genetics Journal of Plant Breeding Research, detailing the development of the Kompetitive Allele Specific Polymerase Chain Reaction or KASP assays for both genes. The journal article can be found at http://bit.ly/2A0Fm9z.

Joining Liu on the publication were AgriLife Research wheat team members Drs. Jackie Rudd, Amarillo, and Amir Ibrahim, College Station, both wheat breeders; Dr. Qingwu Xue, crop stress physiologist; Dr. Chor Tee Tan, an associate research scientist; as well as other students and staff in Amarillo.

Both genes were identified through previous research, and linked markers for them were mapped, but the detection methods were not well suited for marker-assisted selection for evaluating thousands of plants, Liu said.

He said knowing an address doesn’t mean someone knows where in the city to start looking for it. But by developing single nucleotide polymorphism, or SNPs, which include flanking markers closely linked and located on chromosomes, geneticists are able to give breeders the neighborhood to search.

SNPs are then converted into KASP assays, which are considered breeder-friendly because they are easier to use, faster and more accurate, he said.

Effective molecular markers closely linked to the target genes are the key for the success of marker-assisted selection on traits such as greenbug and Hessian fly resistance, Liu said. For instance, a breeder will typically screen 1,000s of breeding lines, and the KASP acts as a flag to say the necessary genes for a particular trait exists in a particular line.

Through Liu’s work, both genes can now be easily transferred into a new wheat line through marker-assisted selection.

Liu said the Gb7 and H32 are both found in a synthetic wheat, W7984, which is a parental line for a mapping population that wheat researchers are using worldwide. Synthetic wheats are man-made crosses between Durum or pasta-type wheats and Aegilops tauschii. These initial crosses provide access to genes of the wild relatives of wheat, thus increasing usable genetic diversity for breeders to improve winter wheat varieties.

The mapping population was developed more than 10 years ago by the International Triticum Mapping Initiative, but neither of these genes has been used for resistance in breeding programs to this point, he said.

“The reason I think they were not being used is they were in a synthetic line and it required more effort to transfer them into adaptive wheat lines,” he said. “What we have done with the KASP marker is make them easier to find and utilize.”

For example, TAM 114, a newer, increasingly popular variety of Texas A&M wheat, does not have greenbug resistance and only has limited Hessian fly resistance, Liu said.

“But with this new knowledge, breeders can cross with TAM 114 and keep its superior end-use quality and improve it with the Gb7 and H32 genes,” he said. “This will make the new line more adaptable to the regions where Hessian fly is a problem.”

By crossing wheat lines with the identified KASP markers, the process to develop the pure line with selected properties can be much more accurate, Liu said.

Liu said he began searching for these markers because the TAM breeding program has made heavy use of synthetic germplasm so the markers will quickly be implemented.

To get to this point, Liu utilized genotype-by-sequencing markers developed by other research groups, and ultimately the KASP markers were validated using the set of synthetic wheat lines. Each line of that mapping population was screened for reactions by greenbug and Hessian fly by two U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service centers.

“We’ve determined they are very effective under many genetic backgrounds,” he said. “Genetic diversity and genetic gains are always important to wheat breeders.”

Posted in Field Crop IPM, Insect Management | Tagged | Leave a comment

UGA mycologists partner with the CDC to tackle fungicide resistance

 From IPM in the South

By Rosemary Hallberg

by Merritt Melancon, University of Georgia

There are a limited number of compounds available to combat fungal infections in both plants and people. A team of University of Georgia researchers is helping to assess the risk posed by fungi developing widespread resistance to the stable of antifungal compounds used in the United States.

Michelle Momany, professor in the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences Department of Plant Biology, and Marin Brewer, associate professor in the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Department of Plant Pathology, recently received a $197,798 contract from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to study antifungal resistance in agricultural settings.

For people with healthy immune systems, fungal infections — the ones that can cause problems like athlete’s foot or ringworm — are annoying, but easily treatable with medicines containing azole antifungal compounds. For people with compromised immune systems, fungal infections can be deadly, and azoles are essential, live-saving drugs. These compounds are also used to protect crops from fungi that cause plant diseases or produce deadly and carcinogenic fungal toxins in food and feed.

Despite these powerful compounds, fungal infections kill about 1.5 million people each year, and almost all have immune systems diminished by chemotherapy or underlying disease. Fungal diseases also wipe out about one-third of the world’s harvest of staple crops, like rice, wheat and corn.

The CDC contract, announced Oct. 23, will allow Momany and Brewer to focus on the Aspergillus funguswhich can cause serious lung infections in people with compromised immune systems and serious crop losses in staple crops, including peanuts, corn, cotton, onions and tree nuts.

“Most people are surprised to learn that fungi are more closely related to animals than they are to plants,” Momany said. “This close relationship makes it hard to identify drug targets in fungi that don’t exist in humans. That’s part of why we have very few good antifungals that don’t also cause terrible side effects in humans. We can’t afford to lose any of the few good antifungals we have.”

Medical professionals in Europe have documented azole resistance in human Aspergillus infections over the last decade, and some of these medical professionals theorize that this rise could be linked to increased agricultural azole use.

“Azoles are vital for human health, both in terms of fighting fungal infections and protecting food supplies from plant disease and deadly or carcinogenic fungal toxins,” Brewer said. “If we can identify where and how antifungal resistance is developing in these settings, we can work on limiting its occurrence so that we can preserve the effectiveness of azoles in treating both plants and people.”

Brewer and Momany will identify azole-resistant Aspergillus fumigatus strains on farms in Georgia and Florida and will identify the genetic mutations that fuel azole resistance. Another team of researchers at the CDC will look for azole-resistant strains of Aspergillus fumigatus in clinical settings and look to see if the same genetic mutations are responsible for azole-resistance in these settings.

Brewer and Momany’s grant is part of a $9 million CDC grant package that will fund antimicrobial resistance research at 23 universities and hospitals across the United States. The work will focus on many different aspects of antibiotic resistance and antibiotic-resistant bacteria and will include one study — Brewer and Momany’s — on antifungal resistance.

Both Brewer and Momany are members of UGA’s interdisciplinary Fungal Biology Group. For more information about research into fungi at UGA, visit research.franklin.uga.edu/fungi/content/fungal-biology-interdisciplinary-group.

Posted in Disease Management, General Information | Leave a comment

Industrial and Commercial Scientific Coalition on Pest Exclusion (IC SCOPE) Working Group brings stakeholders together

Research, Extension and industry personnel have formed the Industrial and Commercial Scientific Coalition on Pest Exclusion (IC SCOPE), to apply scientific methodology in order to quantify the impact of pest exclusion measures to improve Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices in industrial and commercial food handling facilities. The stakeholders who are active in this working group include pest management professionals, in-house pest control professionals, facility managers, and collaborators in vector and public health management. They have formed key partnerships with leading food service and retail grocery chains. The group has met several times in person, and have continued their collaboration with conference calls and webinars.

Historically, exclusion practices for pest control have been documented only as either anecdotal findings or pre-construction guidelines. The IC-SCOPE working group notes that pests utilize structural faults in buildings to gain entry, establish infestations in suitable habitats, and avoid control measures. These infestations result in economic loss and plant disruption when facilities are shut down for fumigation and application of other controls. Further, reports of pest activity can cause lasting damage to a retail brand, even if only an isolated incident.

The IC SCOPE working group has focused mainly on food handling facilities that manufacture, process, store or serve food to improve food safety and reduce operational costs by using IPM and mainly pest exclusion. Pest control and related contaminated food disposal represent costs to the facility. The groups noted that when infestations exist, there may be legal action resulting in direct costs and later indirect costs from negative publicity.

Five key themes have been identified from the IC-SCOPE working group as impeding the use of pest exclusion practices: 1) prevailing business models for most pest control operations; 2) “SOX” Compliance (Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002); 3) extent of exclusion practices to be used around a given facility; 4) materials selection for reliable use in exclusion practices; and, 5) contending with building degradation and further maintenance.

It should be noted that, discussion of these themes is part of uncovering larger systemic issues that should be explored, and not a criticism of specific companies. It is the hope of the working group that ongoing discussions of these issues will lead to appropriate generation of questions and hypotheses for research into improving the use of exclusion as a prerequisite program for urban IPM.

The IC SCOPE working group is preparing a literature review to explore a novel concept in pest exclusion: anti-conservation biology. The concept of anti-conservation biology essentially reverses the practices used historically to preserve threatened populations, in order to put constant pressure on pests in an IPM program that includes exclusion practices.

Another focus of the IC SCOPE working group has been the development of a building checklist to assist personnel in identifying areas outside and inside commercial facilities that could benefit from pest exclusion. The checklists have been deployed at research sites, and have been used to gather data from several food handling and retail grocery locations. Analyses of the data, together with literature review are being synthesized to provide scientific support for promoting pest exclusion as a fundamental and practical approach in facility IPM.

https://www.ncipmc.org/partners/wgroup/ic_scope.php

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POSITION VACANCY ANNOUNCEMENT Area Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Advisor – Entomology

University of California Cooperative Extension 

Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources 

Cooperative Extension Advisor 

Area Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Advisor – Entomology 

Serving Monterey, San Benito & Santa Cruz Counties 

AP #17-24 

LOCATION HEADQUARTERS: Salinas, Monterey County, California

SUBMISSION DATE: To assure full consideration, submit materials by December 29, 2017. Those received after December 29, 2017 may be considered if the position has not yet been filled. (open until filled) POSITION PURPOSE: The Area Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Advisor for Entomology will conduct a multi-county extension, education and applied research program that addresses grower and industry needs, including an understanding of local agricultural crops, their farming systems, and their arthropod pests, including insect-vectored diseases in Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz Counties. Primary crops include cool-season vegetables such as lettuce, and spring mix, broccoli, spinach, celery, and cauliflower, as well as strawberries, caneberries, grapes, ornamental plant production and many specialty crops. The Cooperative Extension (CE) IPM Advisor holds a pivotal role in initiating, contributing to and developing management strategies for invasive invertebrate species and new or exotic insect pests. They must also be knowledgeable about insect pest-related quarantines and interstate/international marketing requirements. Key clientele includes growers, government agencies, pest control advisors, and allied industry personnel. The Area IPM Advisor will be a member of the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (ipm.ucanr.edu) and will participate in UC IPM activities, including development and review of UC IPM online and print publications, organizational meetings, and other programmatic activities relevant to the mission and strategic plan of the Program.

BACKGROUND: University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR), is the statewide division of the University of California that administers Cooperative Extension, which is responsible for local program development and delivery throughout the state of California. University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) is a network of colleagues with a focus on research, education programs, and outreach to resolve local challenges in communities where they live and work. UC ANR is the bridge between local issues and the power of UC Research. UC ANR’s CE advisors, CE specialists and Agricultural Experiment Station (AES) faculty develop and deliver practical, science-based solutions that contribute to healthy food systems, healthy environments, healthy communities, and healthy Californians. To learn more about UCCE in these vibrant communities, visit: http://cemonterey.ucanr.edu/, http://cesanbenito.ucanr.edu/, and http://cesantacruz.ucanr.edu/.

Our priorities in research, education, service, and resource allocation are guided by the UC ANR Strategic Vision (http://ucanr.edu/About_ANR/Strategic_Vision/). There are 5 strategic initiatives that ANR is currently focusing on: Endemic and Invasive Pests and Diseases (EIPD), Healthy Families and Communities (HFC), Sustainable Food Systems (SFS), Sustainable Natural Ecosystem (SNE), and Water Quality, Quantity and Security (WQQS). This position will primarily address priorities found in the Strategic Plans for the Sustainable Food Systems and Endemic and Invasive Pests and Diseases. The Strategic Plans for each strategic initiative can be found at http://ucanr.edu/sites/StrategicInitiatives/.

ACADEMIC EXPECTATIONS: All UC ANR CE advisors are responsible for performance in the areas of 1)applied research and creative activity, 2) extension of knowledge and information, 3) professionalcompetence and activity, and 4) University and public service.

Research: All UC ANR CE advisors develop and implement applied research programs to provide science-based information addressing complex issues. The applied research program will be based upon a needs assessment, and may include partnerships with a variety of campus and county-based colleagues, as well as external partners. Research topics may include but are not limited to development or validation of IPM techniques for monitoring and management of arthropod pests, and detection and exclusion of invasive species. The CE advisor will be expected to interact with UC ANR Program Teams, CE specialists, CE advisors, and others to develop, strengthen and expand the local delivery of statewide programs.

Extension of Knowledge: County and community partners have come to rely on UC ANR CE advisors as a critical resource for providing research-based information across a variety of disciplines. CE advisors disseminate appropriate, science-based information to inform clientele, using extension methods that are responsive to clientele needs and appropriate for the audience and situation. Science-based research results and educational information are disseminated using a variety of methods, including individual consultations, presentations at grower and industry meetings, workshops, short courses, field demonstrations, UC ANR publications, peer-reviewed journals, newsletters, technical reports to commodity boards/funding agencies, and an appropriate mix of contemporary and emerging electronic tools (such as online learning, web content systems and repositories, social media, impact and evaluation tools), along with specialized and public media

outlets. Programs will be developed and carried out in collaboration with other UC ANR academics and appropriate statewide efforts including UC ANR Program Teams and Workgroups.

Professional Competence: All UC ANR CE advisors are required to demonstrate professional competence in their programmatic areas. Professional competence includes participation in training activities to enhance professional development, such as administrative trainings, professional conferences, or workshops. Professional competence also includes activities that reflect professional standing within the programmatic area, such as presenting at conferences or workshops, holding offices in professional societies, invited presentations, or reviewing/editing publications.

University and Public Service: All UC ANR CE advisors are required to actively serve the University, as well as the public. University service may occur at the local, division, state, national, or international levels. Examples of potential University service activities include serving on a university workgroup or committee, providing leadership in program teams, or advocacy efforts. Public service involves activities and events in which the incumbent uses their professional expertise to benefit groups or efforts outside the University. Examples may include serving on external boards or councils, participating in community events, and leadership of non-University collaborative groups.

Major Responsibilities: 

•Develop and implement effective UC ANRCooperative Extension applied research and educational programs to address the identified priority needs of the clientele that are consistent with ANR’s Strategic Vision and ANR initiatives http://ucanr.edu/sites/StrategicInitiatives/.

•Conduct and report regular comprehensiveneeds assessments to identify priority issues or problems relevant to the local clientele groups being served.

•Conduct applied research designed to solve

locally relevant problems and monitor change.

•Disseminate useful, science-based information to inform clientele, using extension methods thatare responsive to clientele needs and appropriate for the audience and situation.

•Maintain and promote UC ANR CE’s credibility and visibility by participating in professionalorganizations and collaborating with government agencies, commodity groups, allied industry groups, and other organizations by providing independent science-based information and leadership.

•Evaluate programs and report accomplishments, results, and potential or actual impacts toscientific and lay audiences through a variety of outreach methods.

•Develop collaborative teams with other UC ANR academics, including CE specialists, AES faculty,CE advisors and/or others, to address priority issues for UC ANR.

RELATIONSHIPS: The CE advisor is administratively responsible to the UCCE Monterey county director, with input from the San Benito and Santa Cruz county directors. The CE advisor is programmatically responsible to the Director of the Statewide IPM Program. The Area IPM Advisor will work with local CE commodity advisors to extend information to clientele.

AFFIRMATIVE ACTION: An understanding of and commitment to UC ANR’s affirmative action goals and commitments is expected of all CE advisors.

EDUCATION AND EXPERIENCE: A minimum of an earned master’s degree, though other advanced degrees are encouraged, in disciplines such as entomology, pest management, or other closely related field is required by the appointment start date. A broad understanding of integrated pest management principles, including knowledge of crop production, cultural and biological controls, and pesticide use is required. Quantitative skills and knowledge of, and experience using, statistical analysis and experimental designs are required. Excellent written, oral and interpersonal communication skills are required. Demonstrated ability in applied research and extension is preferred. Practical field experience in entomology pest management is preferred.

The CE advisor must possess or obtain a Qualified Pesticide Applicator Certificate (QAC) or License prior to applying or supervising the application of any pesticide.

SALARY: Beginning salary will be in the Cooperative Extension Assistant Advisor Rank, and commensurate with applicable experience and professional qualifications. For information regarding Cooperative Extension Advisor salary scales, please refer to the University of California, ANR website: http://ucanr.edu/sites/anrstaff/files/271532.pdf. If the successful candidate is currently a UCCE academic with indefinite status, the candidate will be offered the position commensurate with applicable experience and professional qualifications with eligibility to retain such indefinite status.

BENEFITS: The University of California offers comprehensive benefits including two days per month paid vacation, one day per month paid sick leave, and approximately thirteen paid holidays per year. This position is eligible for sabbatical leave privileges as per the terms of University policy. For more information, refer to the UC Benefits website at: http://ucnet.universityofcalifornia.edu/.

HOW TO APPLY: To be considered, applicants must electronically submit the following four components of the Application Packet to ANRacademicsearch@ucanr.edu:

1.Cover Letter

2.ANR Academic Application Form— from the ANR website at:http://ucanr.edu/academicapplication

Please include a list of potential references. If you are selected for an interview, the searchcommittee will contact the references you listed on the UC ANR application form (aminimum of four and a maximum of six names, current addresses, phone numbers andemail addresses). Please do not send letters of reference.

3.CV or Resume

4.College Level Transcripts: Electronic transcripts or legible scanned copies (PDF) of originaltranscripts will be accepted. Transcripts must identify course work completed, gradesearned, degrees conferred and confer dates.

Application and associated materials will not be returned to the applicant. A search committee will review all applications, interview candidates, and recommend individuals most suitable for the position.

For information regarding this position, please contact: 

University of California ANR Academic HR LeChé McGill (530) 750-1281 E-mail Address: anracademicsearch@ucanr.edu

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2018 USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum Student Diversity Program Sponsorship

MEMORANDUM

FROM:             Eddie G. Gouge

Senior Associate Director, Federal Relations – Food and Agricultural Sciences
and Executive Director, CARET and the Board on Human Sciences, Inc.

DATE:               November 3, 2017

SUBJECT:        2018 USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum Student Diversity Program

APLU has been asked to forward to you the following information:

The 2018 USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum Student Diversity Program will be held on February 19-23, 2018.  The Forum provides producers, policymakers, business, government, and industry leaders with a unique opportunity to meet, exchange ideas, and discuss timely issues at the forefront of America’s agriculture.  In an effort to increase the present and future diversity participation at the Forum, USDA created the Agricultural Outlook Forum Student Diversity Program to provide sponsorship opportunities for junior and senior undergraduate and graduate students to attend this annual event.

The program is designed to expose students to contemporary agribusiness, future trends, scientific research, and agricultural policy in today’s real world environment.  It targets 30 agriculture, agricultural business, agricultural economics, communications, nutrition and food science or pre-veterinary junior or senior and graduate students.  Student participants (20 undergraduate and 10 graduate) will be selected from Land-Grant Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, and Non-Land-Grant Colleges of Agriculture.

Students will travel to the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel located in Arlington, Virginia on Monday, February 19.  USDA will host a briefing and discussion about career opportunities on Tuesday, February 20.  Students will tour the Nation’s Capital on Wednesday, February 21 and attend the Forum on Thursday and Friday, February 22-23.  The program overview and application can be found at https://www.usda.gov/oce/forum/diversity/2018_Student_Diversity_Program_App.pdf

Undergraduate Selection Criteria: Students submit an application and one-page essay entitled “Agriculture as a Career” to their respective institution representative (i.e., academic dean or department chair).  Each institution performs a “pre-selection” process by choosing the final best two essays among the applicants.

Graduate Selection Criteria: Students submit an application and essay (two-page maximum) entitled “The Greatest Challenge Facing Agriculture Over the Next 5 Years” to their respective institution representative (i.e., academic dean or department chair).  Each institution performs a “pre- selection” process by choosing the final best two essays among the applicants.

Essay Submissions: Schools will submit applications and essays (for both undergraduate and graduate students) to Lisa Purnell (lisa.purnell@osec.usda.gov) along with individual letters of recommendation from the institution’s Academic Chair/Dean by Monday, December 1, 2017. (Two undergraduate positions and one graduate position are reserved for University of Maryland Eastern Shore students.)  Essays must include student’s name, major, and year in school.  Final selections will be made by Lisa Purnell, 1890 Program Liaison, USDA Office of Advocacy and Outreach.  Applicants must be U.S. citizens enrolled full-time in an academic institution as described under the Target section in the attached PDF at the time of application.

Travel Itinerary and Sponsorship: Students will arrive in Washington, D.C. Monday, February 19, 2018 and return home Friday, February 23, 2018. Registration, transportation and lodging are provided. Students are asked to bring resources to pay for their baggage fees (if applicable) and meals Monday and Tuesday, February 19-20, and lunch on Wednesday. Forum meals, along with Tuesday and Wednesday breakfast and dinner, are provided. The winners will be announced in January via the Forum website, press release and blog.

If you have questions, or need additional information, please contact Lisa Purnell at (410) 651-6313 or via email atlisa.purnell@osec.usda.gov.

 

 

Lisa Purnell
1890 Program Liaison – Office of Advocacy and Outreach

United States Department of Agriculture

Office: (410) 651-6313

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Biological pesticides are included in integrated pest management systems

From IPM in the South

By Rosemary Hallberg

In Southeast Farm Press

Biological pesticides can play a key role in a successful integrated pest management program and can be useful in increasing sustainability on the farm.

Speaking at a symposium on the role biological crop protection products can play in sustainable agriculture in Orlando Oct. 11, David Epstein, senior entomologist with USDA’s Office of Pest Management Policy, said integrated pest management, or IPM, is all about ecosystems and a systems-based approach to controlling pests.

“IPM includes everything. You can use biopesticides in an IPM program,” Epstein said. “IPM is not limited to one approach. It takes everything into consideration. IPM is applicable across all farming systems. It is a philosophy of pest control formed on the principles of ecology.”

IPM acknowledges that farmers use pesticides. “Organic farmers use pesticides. They are not synthetics. They are naturally sourced,” Epstein emphasized.

IPM is an informed and wise use of pesticides. “This is probably the best kept secret in thecountry. Farms are not natural ecosystems and pests are going to have to be managed. And we need pesticides to do it. Whether they are biopesticides, synthetic pesticides or natural pesticides, we have to control pests,” Epstein said.

Michael Braverman, senior scientist at Rutgers University and manager of the IR-4 Project for Biopesticides, said biologicals can clearly play a role in both organic and conventional crop production programs, but better information and literature is needed for instituting thresholds.

“Pesticides, whether conventional or biopesticides, are certainly part of the IPM and sustainability processes,” Braverman said. “Part of being able to have the ability to select a less environmentally impacting product such as a biopesticide involves knowing what products are available.”

Through the IR-4 Project, Rutgers and USDA are maintaining a label database for biopesticides. The project helps make more information on biopesticides readily available to the growers who want to use them.

“If you don’t know what product to look for, you’re not going to find it. But a grower does know what crops they have and they hopefully know what pests they have. Through this database, they can put in their crops and pests and they will get feedback on what the tools are based on those particular parameters,” Braverman said.

In the meantime, Lori Berger, academic coordinator with the University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program at U.C. Davis, said IPM is basically stuck due to such challenges as invasive pests, drift incidents and maximum residue limit issues.

“We’ve also seen few people going into the sciences or into Extension and agriculture. We don’t have the people that are available, so IPM is really bogged down,” she said.

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation and the University of California statewide IPM program are working together to enhance IPM programs across California. Through policy, innovation and communication, the two will make recommendations to further IPM efforts across the state. Berger said it is all about establishing an ongoing dialogue about IPM.

“We are trying to take a more systems-thinking approach,” Berger said. “In order to optimize the whole we must understand the relationship of the parts. That makes it a lot more complicated but it also makes it a lot more interesting.”

Posted in General Information, Pest management, Press Release, Seminars/Symposia | Tagged | Leave a comment

Conference on cover crops and soil health

Pre-registration is ending next week for the Second National Conference on Cover Crops and Soil Health, being held Dec. 7-8 in Indianapolis, IN.  The pre-registration deadline is Tuesday, Nov. 7. 

After November 7th, the conference registration price goes from $150 to $200 for ag professionals (including university, agency, NGO and agribusiness staff).  The farmer pre-registration fee is $90 and student fee is $50.  Each of those will increase by $25 after Nov. 7.

Information about the conference, which is being organized by the Soil and Water Conservation Society, is at:

http://www.swcs.org/en/conferences/2017_national_conference_on_cover_crops/

This conference is only being held every three to four years, so now is your chance to hear the latest and greatest on cover crops and soil health!

Special topics being addressed at the conference this year are:

  • Planting green – strategy of planting commodity crops into living green cover crops before termination of the cover
  • Adjusting nutrient management when using covers
  • Best strategies and timing for terminating cover crops
  • Grazing approaches for cover crops
  • Using cover crops as part of a strategy for controlling herbicide-resistant weeds
  • Environmental impacts of cover crops
  • Latest insights on soil health testing and soil biology
  • And much more on soil management, policy, and economics!

This 1.5 day conference has many of the leading farmers and cover crop researchers speaking, along with a number of soil health experts.  Several SARE grantees are speaking, including keynote speaker Keith Berns, a Nebraska farmer who started a cover crop seed business with his brother after researching cover crops through a SARE grant.  There will also be exhibitors on cover crops and soil health and optional farm bus tours right after the conference in the Indianapolis area.

Posted in Agricultural IPM, Conference, Field Crop IPM, General Information | Leave a comment

Center for Turfgrass Environmental Research and Education Annual Research Symposium: Turf Trends for Changing Times

 From IPM in the South

By Rosemary Hallberg

The turf industry is facing many challenges in terms of changes in climate, regulations, pest populations, technology. The objective of this symposium is to present and discuss what these challenges will be in the future and how the industry is positioning themselves to overcome them. Speakers have been chosen to represent a broad range of disciplines.

In the afternoon, research conducted by graduate students and post-docs associated with the Center for Environmental Research and Education at NCSU to address some of these issues will be presented. See the website for more information.

Venue

The symposium will be held at the NC State University Club (4200 Hillsborough St. Raleigh NC 27606)

Registration

This event is free of charge but pre-registration is required. Please register here.

Speakers

  • Bob Harriman, Vice President, Scotts Miracle-Gro Company
  • Renee Keese, Biology Project Leader, BASF Corporation
  • Mark Schmidt, Manager of Global University Relations, John Deere
  • Tom Rufty, Distinguished Professor, NCSU, Environmental Plant Biology
  • David Shew, Phillip Morris Professor, NCSU, Plant Pathology
  • Fred Yelverton, Extension Specialist, Weed Science

Live Streaming

The symposium will be streamed live online for those unable to attend in person. To attend the symposium via streaming, you will need to register here. Please notice that the link for live streaming will be sent out Wednesday, Dec. 13 5 pm EST. You must be registered by Tuesday, Dec. 12 in order to receive the link.

Posted in General Information, Seminars/Symposia | Tagged | Leave a comment

New tool predicts risk of plant disease

 From IPM in the South

By Rosemary Hallberg

A newly developed technique can predict the risk of plant disease or infestation across the globe. Described in open-access journal Frontiers in Applied Mathematics and Statistics, the technique considers pest-host interactions and the geographical distribution of vulnerable plants to provide maps of potential disease hotspots. This could help governments to understand the risk of outbreaks before they happen.

Diseases and pests can have a devastating impact on plants, the surrounding ecosystem, and food supplies. These effects can be particularly damaging when a pest or pathogen invades a new territory, in which native plants have little natural resistance and the destructive invader has few native predators or competitors.

Government agencies try to restrict pests and pathogens by controlling the movement of plants and animals between countries and regions. However, with international trade and travel, it can be difficult or impossible to stop pests and pathogens from spreading.

One way to get a head start in preventing infection and infestation outbreaks is to analyze where known pests and pathogens are currently located, and then look at the distribution of plants that might be vulnerable to attack. However this type of in-depth analysis can be time-consuming, given the huge array of plant, pathogen and pest species.

To better help predict outbreaks, researchers in Mexico developed a new series of algorithms to help predict outbreaks. Their technique is based on the principle that closely related plants that grow near each other are prone to infection or infestation by the same pathogens or pests. By studying the geographical distribution of closely related plants, the research team generated maps of potential disease hotspots.

To test their algorithms, the team applied them to an invasive pest present in North America, the redbay ambrosia beetle. This invasive beetle transmits Laurel Wilt Disease, which can be deadly for plants of the laurel family. The researchers consulted online databases to find a group of ambrosia beetles that are closely related to the redbay ambrosia beetle, and a group of plant species that are associated with these beetles.

Using known beetle/plant interactions as a starting point, and then using their algorithms to estimate the probability that closely related plants would be similarly impacted, the researchers calculated the probability of each plant being affected by a particular beetle species.

The team then incorporated data about the known geographical distribution of each plant. If plants are found over large areas, then they are at higher risk for contracting and spreading an outbreak. Using their algorithms, the researchers calculated the probability of multiple plant species being infested by a beetle when the plants are present at the same site.

Using the technique, the team created maps showing regions of the world most likely to suffer infestation, or interaction between the beetles and plants. The maps accurately reflected the native territories of the beetles, along with the recent invasive behavior of some beetles, including the southward advance of one beetle across the United States. Worryingly, the model indicated that similar plants in Central and South America could be vulnerable to invasion next.

These types of maps could be very helpful for government agencies and ecologists in understanding and predicting outbreaks, by highlighting current or potential disease hotspots, but the team need further data from fieldwork to check the system’s accuracy.

However, these algorithms are not just applicable to plant infestations. “The method provides easy-to-use computer tools, which can be applied to understand and predict interactions between any group of organisms,” says Andrés Lira-Noriega, a researcher involved in the study.

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