IPM Enhancement Grant projects examine agricultural, urban issues

The Southern IPM Center will spend $309,653 to address agricultural and urban issues during the next year with its IPM Enhancement Grant. Out of 32 proposals submitted to the program, a review panel outside of the region selected 11 for funding.

IPM Enhancement Grants are relatively small grants (up to $30,000 for most) to address an integrated pest management issue. Most publicly funded organizations are eligible to apply as long as they reside in one of the 13 states or territories covered by the Southern IPM Center.

Project directors can apply for one of three types of grants: Seed, which may allow a PD to collect data needed to apply for a larger grant; Capstone, which provides funding for extension materials after the completion of another project; or Working Group, which brings experts together to discuss a pest management issue and develop priorities and devise steps to be taken to address the problem.

The 11 project directors who were funded this year will take on a variety of pest management issues. Two projects will explore approaches to weed control. Two other projects will look at more sustainable pest management, specifically using cover crops and biological control. One project will use technology to create new identification methods for strawberry diseases, while another will use technology to tell a story about sustainable farming. One project will compare cultivated urban trees to wild trees in the same species. Other projects will address specific fruit and vegetable pest management issues.

The following are the IPM Enhancement Grant projects for 2018:

Seed Projects:

Does the invasive pest Drosophila suzukii manipulate the microbiome of its fruit hosts? Implications for management and ecology, Hannah Burrack, NC State University

This project will look at the microbial communities of the plants preferred by spotted wing drosophila to find out if the pest alters existing bacterial presence. This will be the first longitudinal study done to characterize the microbiome of blueberry and caneberry crops.

Red maple wildtype and cultivar pest susceptibility across urban planting conditions, Steven Frank, NC State University

Previous research has determined that red maple trees planted in urban areas surrounded by impervious surfaces (like parking lots). This project will compare the populations of gloomy scales on wildtype red maples to those in clonal cultivar and hybrid red maples in urban settings.

Surveillance and Characterization of Varroa Mite Acaricide Resistance in Virginia, Aaron Gross, Virginia Tech

Varroa mite is a major cause of honey bee losses, so control is imperative. Apiarists currently use acaricides to control the mite, but because of the lack of choices, resistance is a concern. This project will explore different IPM strategies for varroa mites and track varroa mite acaricide resistance in 3 regions of Virginia.

Foundational Research for the Development of IPM in Florida’s Subtropical Peach Industry, Amanda Hodges, University of Florida

Peaches are subject to a myriad of insect pests and diseases, especially in south Florida where temperatures and humidity is high. Because no thresholds exist for insects on peaches in south Florida, growers spray on a calendar schedule. This project seeks to identify the major pests of Florida peaches and determine the efficacy of practices currently used to develop extension guides.

Reassessment of Nematode Thresholds for Agronomic Crops in the Southeast, Hillary Mehl, Virginia Tech

Nematodes cause 10 percent of yield loss annually in the US. Root-knot nematode is the most common, but other nematodes can be just as devastating, and nematicides that work for one type may not work for others. This project will re-examine thresholds for two less commonly publicized nematodes, stubby root and sting nematodes.

Determining effects of cover crop use on pest attraction to tomato, Rebecca Schmidt-Jeffris, Clemson University

While many growers use cover crops to suppress weeds and improve soil structure, cover crops can have additional benefits beyond just weed and pest control. This project will explore how cover crops affect soil health in ways that may alter pest preferences for crops. This will be the first study that will examine insect preferences for plants based on the cover crop.

Strawberry Disease Cycle Illustrations, Animations, and Time-Lapse Videos for IPM Education, Guido Schnabel, Clemson University

This project will develop illustrations and animations of various strawberry diseases to help growers identify specific pathogens such as gray mold and anthracnose in a timely manner.

Investigating Metolachlor Resistance in Palmer Amaranth, Cammy Willett, University of Arkansas

Palmer amaranth is a weed that can reduce yield by 70 percent and is found throughout the US. Because it has developed resistance to so many herbicides, many growers have resorted to hand-pulling. This project will look at the one remaining herbicide, S-metolachlor, to see if resistance has already begun and to address resistance with recommended IPM strategies.

Capstone Project:

Harvest Weed Seed Control for Management of Palmer Amaranth and Italian Ryegrass, Michael Flessner, Virginia Tech

This project will examine a relatively new method of control for two major weeds, Palmer amaranth and Italian ryegrass. Harvest weed seed control works by physically crushing the weed seed. Researchers at Virginia Tech have been evaluating this technique but will focus on evaluating the efficacy of the method for Palmer amaranth in soybeans and Italian ryegrass in wheat.

Working Groups:

A New IPM Working Group on Improving Biocontrol in Open-field Vegetables in the Southeast, Rebecca Schmidt-Jeffris, Clemson University

Often vegetable growers use pest management tactics that can impact natural enemies. This project will create a working group of stakeholders in the vegetable industry in VA, NC, SC and GA to improve biological control options in vegetables.

The Food Narrative Project–Southern Region, James Walgenbach, NC State University

Agricultural groups have recently turned to the media to get the message out to the public about issues such as local food, genetic modification, organic produce and other issues. This project will use the media to publicize the message of what integrated pest management is and how it fits into the food and farming story in general.

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