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Organic Pest Management Overview Hort 390 Fall 2006.

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Presentation on theme: "Organic Pest Management Overview Hort 390 Fall 2006."— Presentation transcript:

1 Organic Pest Management Overview Hort 390 Fall 2006

2 Pest Control – As Integrated Systems Plan ahead, anticipate, take a design approach to your garden. Prevent as many problems as possible, build resilience into the system. Monitor plants and pests on a regular basis. Problems that are identified early are easier to solve. Use least toxic methods first, to preserve the beneficial insects and microbes as much as possible, and maintain system integrity.

3 Pest Control Possibilities: Systems Approach – prevention/passive Systems Approach – moderate Systems Approach – active Note: none of these is a business as usual but do nothing approach. Also, they all incorporate aspects of Integrated Pest Management – IPM.


5 Integrating practices Biological Control Cultural Control Mechanical and Physical Control Habitat manipulation Use of resistant varieties Chemical Control

6 Derived from Kaolin clay, a natural mineral, forms a barrier film that acts as a broad spectrum crop protectant. It works to control insect pests and disease, protect against sunburn and heat stress. Applied as a water-based slurry before pests arrive. D.E. is the fossilized shells of tiny water- dwelling organisms called diatoms, with microscopically fine, sharp edges which break the outer protective layer of the insect and desiccate them. Applied as a dust or mixed into a slurry for foliar spraying. Barrier to crawling pests and soft bodied insects, used in the garden and as a stored grain additive. Can be used as a dust on manure for fly control and for intestinal parasite control. Examples of physical pesticides.

7 Other barrier methods can protect crops from insects, and provide early season growth enhancement, and some frost protection.

8 Organic Cropping System in a high tunnel

9 This is NOT a systems approach - lacks bio-diversity - no soil improvement plan - etc….

10 Organic vs. conventional fruit production in Italy

11 Ichneumon wasp Friends Two-spotted lady beetle Syrphid Flies Green lacewing

12 Insects in Kansas The number of species that are harmful to our interests is relatively small. Many are beneficial. Most are neutral in their effect on our welfare. It is estimated that there are between 15,000 and 20,000 species within Kansas, some of which have never been identified. Field guide (Insects in Kansas) includes photographs of about 850 species.

13 Economic loss from pest insects is due to: Reduced yields Lowered quality of produce Increased costs of production and harvesting Expenditures for control

14 Approaches to insect management: Be prepared by knowing which insects are likely to show up in each crop. Know something about each pests life- cycle, when it shows up, where it comes from etc… Scout regularly. Every 2 to 3 days is recommended during critical periods. Have a scouting plan (see details later) Old saying: The best fertilizer is the footsteps of the farmer.

15 Approaches continued: Know the critical thresholds for insects that you might find, and how the thresholds might change over time (more critical at different life-cycle stages) Use any and all preventative measures that are available and practical. [see later slides] When/if using pesticides, use the ones that will have the least impact on you, non-target organisms (honey bees, beneficial insects, neighbors, etc…)

16 Whats tolerable? Control applied Number or damage level Threshold Time Note: threshold will depend on stage of crop, weather, and has been determined through empirical research and/or modeling.

17 Injury and treatment thresholds Injury level Depends on how much damage the users will tolerate. Economics –How much will it cost to treat? –Would the losses be greater than the cost of treating? Treatment threshold Control action is taken if a pest problem is expected to occur, to prevent crop loss or damage. –e.g. weather conditions indicate a disease outbreak if no action is taken

18 Preventing pest problems Plant selection: –Select variety or crop for location –Chose resistant varieties Prepare the site correctly

19 Cultural control Sanitation Destruction of alternate hosts Habitat modification Smother & cover crops Host resistance Crop rotation Intercropping Planting & harvest dates Flooding Irrigation and water management Fertilizers & soil amendments Mechanical & physical control Soil tillage Mowing Mulches, barriers Temperature manipulation, solarization

20 Avoidance Pest populations exist but the impact is avoided through cultural practice Fertilization program to promote rapid plant development. Not planting in certain areas where pest populations are likely to cause problems. Host-free periods. –Crop rotation (e.g. rotate sugarbeets on a 3 to 10 year cycle to reduce sugarbeet cyst nematode). –Planting or harvesting date modification (e.g. pink bollworm management). Tactics for prevention and avoidance strategies may overlap

21 Two Types of Plant Disease Abiotic diseases/disorders are caused by noninfectious agents such as weather stress, nutrient deficiency, chemical injury, soil factors … Biotic diseases/disorders are caused by infectious agents such as fungi, bacteria, viruses, nematodes

22 Biotic/infectious diseases: Disease triangle Host Species Cultivar Age Pathogen fungi bacteria nematodes viruses Environment Temp, RH, wetness

23 Infectious agents: pathogens Viruses Bacteria Fungi Nematodes most microbes are not pathogens

24 Alternatives/organic Biological controls antagonistic fungi, bacteria Green manures Plant growth promoters Compost teas Copper, sulfur, potassium bicarbonate

25 Boost crop vigor Increased crop vigor will reduce the impact of competition by weeds on yields. Crop vigor can be enhanced through variety selection and management practices that favor the crop over the weeds. Favorable variety and hybrid traits to look for include: Rapid emergence – Planting hybrids/varieties that emerge quickly will give the crop a head start over emerging weeds, helping them to establish and better compete. Quick canopy closure – Once the canopy closes it reduces the amount of light that reaches the soil surface which some small seeded weed seeds need to initiate germination. The faster the canopy closes the more weeds it shuts out. Efficient nutrient scavenging – Logically, crop varieties that are efficient in utilizing nutrients will perform better and they may help prevent weeds from taking up nutrients. Indeterminate growth habit – Because indeterminate crops continue to grow throughout the season, they are less likely to be shaded out by weeds. Drought tolerance – Drought tolerant plants that are better water scavengers will be better equipped to compete with weeds.

26 Management practices that favor crop vigor over weed vigor: Appropriate placement and timing of fertilizers for the crop – Banded fertilizer applications applied at times when the crop demands it most will favor the nutrients reaching the target crop instead of feeding the weeds. Increase plant density or populations – Increasing your planting density will provide quicker canopy closure and deprive weed seeds and seedlings of light. Early-season weed control – Getting a jump on weed control when the crop is most vulnerable will increase plant health and help the crop compete against future weeds. Adjust planting dates – By delaying planting until after the first flush of weeds, new weed seedlings can be killed with a light cultivation or flaming. This practice can help deplete the seed bank in the top layer of soil, resulting in reduced competition later in the growing season. This technique is referred to as a false seedbed approach.

27 Avoid additions to the seedbank; do not let weeds go to seed Weeds can disperse several hundred to several hundred thousand seeds each year by way of wind, water, animals and humans. The number of seeds produced depends on the weed species and its environment. As you can imagine, if left uncontrolled, weed seed production and subsequent weed infestations could increase exponentially for the years to come. More information on weed seedbank management can be found in Managing weed seed banks throughout the growing season by Adam Davis, in the April 29, 2004 issue of the New Ag Network (

28 Increase favorable habitats for weed seed predators Though we mainly view weeds as a nuisance, there are several animals that use weed seeds as a food source. Mice, insects, worms and birds that are already in your fields are all example of weed seed feeders or predators. The exploitation of predator feeding can help reduce the weed seedbank; a tactic that is referred to as conservation biological control. Certain crop management strategies, such as tillage and the use of pesticides, can disrupt the habitat and lifecycles of these creatures, ultimately reducing the weed management benefits realized from predator feeding. To aid in increasing weed seed predator populations consider the following: Plant cover crops – In addition to suppressing off-season weeds, cover crops can provide weed seed feeders with protection from predators. Leave border strips around fields – Border strips can serve as overwintering sites and refuges for weed seed predators. Reduce fall tillage – Reducing fall tillage leaves more weed seeds on the soil surface, where most seed predation occurs. It also increases the persistence of crop residues which provides shelter and refuge to weed seed predators similar to a cover crop.

29 General Strategies: Ways to diversify production: Crop rotation – Certain weeds are often affiliated with certain crops based on their growth habit and management. For example, there is more likely to be a problem controlling weedy grass species in corn than in soybeans. A diverse crop rotation with several different growth habits does not favor the buildup of any one particular weed. Incorporating fall and/or spring seeded cover crops into your rotation can help add diversity. Variations in postemergence control – Increasing the variety of postemergence control practices used will help suppress a larger spectrum of weeds than relying on one tactic. Herbicide (organic or non-organic) mode of action rotation – Consistently relying on the same herbicides or organically acceptable compounds for weed control promotes resistance. If even one weed is naturally resistant, the over reliance of that strategy increases the selection pressure on that weed population and can go on to build an entire population of resistant weeds. One way to avoid this pressure is by alternating herbicide modes of action and practices. It is less likely that a weed will be resistant to multiple modes of action.

30 Tillage and weed control Pre-plant Primary tillage (destroy last years weeds) Secondary tillage – one or more times (prepare seed bed) PLANT Post-plant Pre-emergence culTIvation Post-emergence shallow cultivation – usually 1 to 3 times (rotary hoeing, etc) Post-emergence cultivation between rows, between plants, etc…(see novel examples in video)

31 Non-tillage weed control Crop rotation – will rotate weeds too Allelopathic cover crops – rye, oats, crimson clover, etc….will suppress weed seed germination, establishment Mulches – grow in place, or apply later. Depth and timing matter. Flame weeding – but not in a high-mulch environment. Mow weeds, graze, etc…..

32 Chemical Weed Control Pre-plant options Check publications to see what is allowed for vegetable crop of interest. Must be listed on the label to be legal. Organic options include corn gluten, but must be from non- GMO corn. Post-plant options Again, check publications to see what is registered for each crop. Post Emergence options Herbicides may affect some species and not others, or be general (like glyphosate) Organic non-specific herbicide is vinegar.

33 Biological Weed Control Principle is that an insect or disease selectively targets a weed without endangering non-target plants. Insects released to control weeds include natural enemies of musk thistle and St. Johnswort. Have kept these weeds at reduced levels, but has not resulted in elimination. Under development (mycoherbicides)

34 Timing as a form of weed control Tillage, then repeat at critical intervals Tillage, then kill subsequent weeds without tillage (flame or herbicide) to create a stale seed-bed. Cultivate at night? No light to stimulate germination of new seeds (but no sunlight to kill cultivated weeds either). Plant later than your neighbors…soil is warmer, crop comes up quicker than the weeds, easier to control the weeds.

35 Weed-free threshold concept Control early weeds Usually if the weeds are controlled for the first 6 to 8 weeks; the later weeds dont matter (except if there is a crop quality problem, harvesting problem, or aesthetic issue).

36 Strategy vs. Tactic from the Dictionary of Sustainable Management STRATEGIC PLAN A complex and ongoing process of organizational change which establishes a context for accomplishing goals, and provides a framework and direction to achieve an organization's desired future. A strategic plan differs from a business plan in that it focuses more on the overall organizational development and not, specifically, on financial models, investment, and budgets.

37 strategic Programs, goals, and projects of great importancegreatimportance tactical The lowest level of military operations, the view from the trenches and the foxholes. Tactical decisions are those made by the commanders on the spot, on the front lines. Most miniature games are tactical or grand- tactical in nature. The opposite of tactical is strategic.levelmilitaryviewfrommadespotfrontlinesMostminiaturegamesnatureoppositestrategic.

38 Pest Control Possibilities: Systems Approach – prevention/passive Systems Approach – moderate Systems Approach – active Planning ahead is strategic. The practices you choose are your tactics.

39 Pest Control Possibilities: Insects Systems Approach – prevention/passive - resistant/tolerant crops, attract beneficial insects to area Systems Approach – moderate - row cover/barrier, clay film barrier, diatomaceous earth, vacuum or hand pick, sticky traps, pheremones (distruptants and traps). Systems Approach – active - botanical pesticides (pyrethrum, sabadilla, neem, rotenone), microbial pesticides (Nolo bait for grasshoppers, Bt for various larvae.

40 Pest Control Possibilities: Diseases Systems Approach – prevention/passive - grow species that arent affected in our climate, live with it, rotation, compost and soil improvement for root diseases. Systems Approach – moderate - sanitation (residue management, pruning), choose specific varieties for disease resistance, disease free seeds and plants. Systems Approach – active - sulfur, horticultural oils, baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), potassium bicarbonate, compost tea foliar spray (still experimental, E. coli concerns?).

41 Pest Control Possibilities- Weeds: Systems Approach – prevention/passive - high planting density, leafy crops to shade weeds, targeted irrigation, rotation Systems Approach – moderate -pre-plant tillage, lots of mulch, landscape fabric, hand weeding Systems Approach – active - corn gluten pre-emergence, flame weeding, between row cultivation, soaps as post- emergence, livestock grazing

42 Diagnosing the problem Caused by a pest Caused by weather (frost, hail, wind) Caused by nutrition deficiency Caused by machinery, inadequate irrigation Seedling wilting from fungi, primarily weather-related Mower damage

43 Importance of identification Many symptoms look similar. Presence of a pest doesnt mean it caused the damage. Not all damage needs to be treated (thresholds). Pests may no longer be present. Pest may be difficult to find (especially soil-borne pathogens/ nematodes). Symptoms may be caused by improper cultural practices. Stink bug damage Below-ground damage from root-knot nematode Katydid damage

44 Importance of pest identification Proper identification is essential for choosing the right control actions. Requires identifying: –Pest organisms –Beneficial organisms –Population levels Requires correlating pests to damage. Big-eyed bug (beneficial insect) False chinch bug (sporadic, minor pest) Lygus bug (major pest) Herbicide damage vs. grub damage

45 Stump the Chump Come to class on Thursday to play! Bring samples if you want.

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