Partners Against Pests

As researchers and Extension specialists work with growers to reach that perfect balance of efficacy and economy in their pest control programs, many find that the pests themselves aren’t the only challenge. Another is the myth that use of conventional chemicals and biopesticides is an either/or proposition.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) advocates admit it’s easy to see how this myth got started. Organic growers use biopesticides as a stand-alone because most products are registered for use on organic crops. So biopesticides are often linked to organic production.

But in reality, only organic growers use biopesticides exclusively. In fact, organic production represents only a small percentage of biopesticide use. All things considered — economics, efficacy, sustainability, and crop quality — traditional growers are learning that a program using biopesticides alongside conventional products is often most effective.

Too Much of a Good Thing

Resistance management is one piece of that puzzle. Hired in 1989 as an entomologist at the University of Georgia, Dr. Alton Sparks works to control diamondback moth in cole crops. At that time, growers were using organophosphates to control diamondback moth, but the pest developed resistance.

A few years later, a new generation of synthetic chemistry came on the market and, as Sparks has observed, “They worked great at first, but now we’re seeing resistance to those products.”

“In Georgia,” explains Dr. George Kennedy, professor of entomology at North Carolina State University, “the growers were using one of the newer products almost exclusively, in spite of the fact the label told them not to.” Resistance developed as a result and now, because of its overuse, Kennedy says the manufacturer is considering taking the product off the market in Georgia.

To prolong the efficacy of synthetic pesticides, rotation is mandatory. The recommendation for most products is that they not be used more than twice back to back. The products need to be rotated with a different product containing a different mode of action. “Ideally,” says Sparks, “You don’t subject subsequent generations to the same mode of action.”

Because biopesticides contain multiple modes of action, they are well suited for rotation in pest management programs. For example, a biopesticide like Bt creates holes in the gut of the pest, whereas conventional pesticides are often neurotoxins.

Complementary Effects

Michael Braverman, manager, Biopesticide Program, IR-4 Project, Rutgers University, agrees that the message is simple when encouraging growers to integrate biopesticides into their spray programs. “It is important to understand that it’s not biopesticides versus conventional,” he points out, “it’s biopesticides and conventionals.”

Resistance management isn’t the only benefit, however. John Francis, director of marketing and technical services at BioWorks, Fairport, NY, says biopesticides can often add a level of control while reducing growers’ costs, with a positive impact on crop quality.

In the case of one greenhouse grower, Francis recalls how he used synthetic fungicides to control Pythium, Fusarium, and other diseases in his poinsettias. The grower required 12 pallets a year of the synthetic material to get an acceptable level of control. However, once he mixed a biological fungicide into his program, he now uses only one pallet a year of the synthetic material.

Francis explains that the biological fungicide does a “marvelous” job preventing disease, but it is not systemic. So to ensure initial cleanliness of the crop or to provide control during heavy disease pressure, the synthetic fungicide is applied as a drench to knock out existing diseases.

Application Considerations

Biopesticide Benefits

Incorporating biopesticides into a crop protection program has four major benefits:
    • They help prolong the life of synthetic chemicals.
    • Insects and diseases do not develop resistance to biopesticides.
    • There is a shorter re-entry time using biopesticides.
    • Biopesticides leave little or no residues.

Another key benefit that biopesticides offer is in the area of residue management. Many growers like to come in with an application close to harvest to maintain the quality of their mature crop, especially if there is a weather event that would increase pests or diseases. Biopesticides offer growers that flexibility.

In season, however, growers have the option to apply biopesticides as a stand-alone, tank mixed with a synthetic chemical, or substituting a biological for a synthetic one or more times as part of the spray cycle.

Multi-state trial results released in 2007 by Valent BioSciences Corp. found that their Bt-based products worked most efficiently when used in rotation as part of an IPM program. The trial results showed that tank-mix treatments were more effective than rotational treatments, but also more costly.

The important message, says Dr. Ramon Georgis, global business manager microbials for Valent Biosciences and a co-author of the study, is that rotational treatments were found to be less expensive while achieving a better level of control and producing a higher yield than the plots treated with synthetic insecticides alone.

A good example of this biological-synthetic chemistry partnership can be seen in apple and pear crops in the Pacific Northwest. Here, codling moth is a major menace and the pest has developed resistance to organophosphates. Michael Dimock, director of technology and development for Certis USA, points out that many conventional growers are rotating biological products with conventional inputs to control codling moth.

“Application of the biological is timed for optimal efficacy, usually early stage larva, just after egg hatch,” he says. This method of integrating biological and synthetic products gives an acceptable level of control while not allowing the pest to build resistance to a single mode of chemistry.

“Almost all biological products are not meant to be used as stand-alones,” he says. “They are designed to make all the inputs work better.”

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories
legal justice, courts
Berries
May 4, 2016
University of California Sued Over Strawberry Breeding – Again
This time it’s a private strawberry breeding company, which says the statewide breeding program has been decimated by UC-Davis. Read More
(Photo credit: USDA)
Citrus
May 4, 2016
$6 Million Available For Antimicrobial Resistance Research
Program to develop strategies to reduce public health risks in food chain. Read More
California's "Citrus Belt" is on the east side of San Joaquin Valley, not far from the Sierra Nevada foothills. (Photo credit: David Eddy)
Citrus
May 3, 2016
New Program Targets Abandoned California Citrus Trees
Bayer and California Citrus Mutual have teamed up to help protect the state’s commercial citrus industry from deadly citrus greening. Read More
Extreme close-up of redbay ambrosia beetle
Fruits
May 3, 2016
How To Build A Better Beetle Trap
UF/IFAS study on luring, snaring the notorious redbay ambrosia beetle earns prestigious award. Read More
Shockwave, a long shelf-life cantaloupe with higher sugar content than most varieties is available from Holmes Seed Co. and Harris Seeds. Credit: Holmes Seed Co.
Cucurbits
May 3, 2016
New Cantaloupe, Pumpkin, And Squash Seeds Available
New varieties developed at the University of New Hampshire are the result of the longest continuous squash and pumpkin breeding program in North America. Read More
A herbicide screening trial in a non-bearing almond orchard treated in early January 2011.  The middle plot is a glyphosate-only program whereas the foreground and background plots had residual herbicides.  The photo was taken four months after the January treatments. (Photo credit UCANR)
Crop Protection
May 3, 2016
Almond Board To Hold Three Weed Management Workshops
The second in a series of free educational workshops aimed at the state’s almond growers will cover weed identification and Read More
fork digging into a plate full of salad
Food Safety
May 2, 2016
Department Of Justice Investigates Dole Over Listeria Outbreak Linked To Packaged Salads
Salad mix packaged at the company’s Ohio facility has been connected to four deaths. Read More
Florida Everglades swamp shot at sunset
Citrus
May 2, 2016
As Hurricane Season Nears, South Florida Going Dry
All basins around the region experience rainfall deficits during April as totals fall far below average. Read More
Harvesting Tips At Kuhn Orchards
Equipment
May 2, 2016
USDA Offers New Loans For Portable Farm Storage, Handling Equipment
Portable equipment can help producers, including small and local farmers, get products to market quickly. Read More
Contour Farming
Vegetables
May 2, 2016
The Importance Of Producing Crops On Well-Managed Cropland
Many farmland protection options and tools have been suggested and used in efforts to slow the rate of farmland losses around the country. Read More
The Latest
Berries
May 4, 2016
University of California Sued Over Straw…
This time it’s a private strawberry breeding company, which says the statewide breeding program has been decimated by UC-Davis. Read More
Citrus
May 4, 2016
$6 Million Available For Antimicrobial R…
Program to develop strategies to reduce public health risks in food chain. Read More
Citrus
May 3, 2016
New Program Targets Abandoned California…
Bayer and California Citrus Mutual have teamed up to help protect the state’s commercial citrus industry from deadly citrus greening. Read More
Fruits
May 3, 2016
How To Build A Better Beetle Trap
UF/IFAS study on luring, snaring the notorious redbay ambrosia beetle earns prestigious award. Read More
Cucurbits
May 3, 2016
New Cantaloupe, Pumpkin, And Squash Seed…
New varieties developed at the University of New Hampshire are the result of the longest continuous squash and pumpkin breeding program in North America. Read More
Crop Protection
May 3, 2016
Almond Board To Hold Three Weed Manageme…
The second in a series of free educational workshops aimed at the state’s almond growers will cover weed identification and Read More
Food Safety
May 2, 2016
Department Of Justice Investigates Dole …
Salad mix packaged at the company’s Ohio facility has been connected to four deaths. Read More
Citrus
May 2, 2016
As Hurricane Season Nears, South Florida…
All basins around the region experience rainfall deficits during April as totals fall far below average. Read More
Equipment
May 2, 2016
USDA Offers New Loans For Portable Farm …
Portable equipment can help producers, including small and local farmers, get products to market quickly. Read More
Vegetables
May 2, 2016
The Importance Of Producing Crops On Wel…
Many farmland protection options and tools have been suggested and used in efforts to slow the rate of farmland losses around the country. Read More
Leafy Vegetables
May 2, 2016
Electronic Eye Detects Decay Inside Bagg…
Researchers develop a way to help select breeding lines that will yield cut lettuce with a longer shelflife. Read More
Nuts
May 2, 2016
California Almond Acreage Up 6%
The increase follows a trend in which acreage has doubled in the last 20 years. Read More
Farm Management
May 2, 2016
USDA Unveils New Urban Agriculture Toolk…
For urban farmers and agribusiness entrepreneurs, the toolkit is an electronic document that helps users navigate more than 70 resources, including technical assistance and financing opportunities. Read More
Cucurbits
May 2, 2016
13 Of The Latest Cucumber Varieties
Check out this slideshow for more details on 13 cucumber varieties you need to know about from the nation’s leading seed breeders and Read More
Apples & Pears
May 1, 2016
USApple Debuts New Website
Industry group says new site is responsive to different formats, designed to be more consumer and industry friendly. Read More
Crop Protection
April 30, 2016
How To Elect The Right Fungicide For The…
Fungicide application is one tool of a successful IPM program for crop diseases. Used judiciously and appropriately, these chemicals are powerful allies in the fight against the fungi and bacteria that attack crops. Read More
GenNext Growers
April 30, 2016
Young Growers The Focus Of Industry Prog…
The next generation in the tree fruit industry getting support of leading industry organizations. Read More
Nuts
April 29, 2016
Look Out For Jacket Rot On Almond Leaves
Rains at bloom are causing higher than normal incidents of bacterial infections. Read More
[gravityform id="62" title="false" description="false"]