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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: SUNFLOWER GERMPLASM DEVELOPMENT FOR IMPROVED INSECT AND DISEASE RESISTANCE Title: Research needs and potential effects of biomass crops on pest management

Authors
item Prasifka, Jarrad
item Gray, Michael -

Submitted to: Journal of Integrated Pest Management
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: July 18, 2012
Publication Date: December 1, 2012
Citation: Prasifka, J.R., Gray, M.E. 2012. Research needs and potential effects of biomass crops on pest management. Journal of Integrated Pest Management. 3(4):C1-C5.

Interpretive Summary: Projected demand for one billion tons or more of plant biomass for ethanol and other uses may be partially met using residues like corn stover or wheat straw, but more than 25 million acres of perennial grass and tree crops also may be needed. Agricultural change on such a large scale indicates established or emerging pests will have impacts on management in both perennial and annual crops, though relatively little is known regarding management of insects in biomass crops. For crops without significant food or feed uses (primary-use biomass crops), immediate research needs are general because little is known regarding their insect herbivores and insect-transmitted pathogens or their effects on biomass. Recent work in perennial grasses has revealed species which were previously undescribed, described but without known host associations or other general biological information, or well-known pests of food or feed crops. Conversely, in food or feed crops modified for biomass production (secondary-use), information on pest biology and management should overlap with their close-relatives (e.g., corn for food or feed versus tropical maize for biomass), with some changes needed in economic thresholds or management strategies. To the degree that biomass crops and food crops share insects and insect-transmitted diseases, insects provide an avenue for (positive or negative) interactions between biomass and food crops. Unfortunately, broad conclusions about the effects of biomass crops are difficult to make because the outcomes will depend on which biomass crops are planted, where they are planted, and how they are managed. Additional investment and interdisciplinary research are needed to address new pest management challenges posed by the expansion of biomass crops.

Technical Abstract: Projected demand for one billion tons or more of plant biomass for ethanol and other uses may be partially met using crop residues, but more than 10 million hectares of perennial grass and tree crops also may be needed. Agricultural change on a scale of several million hectares indicates established or emerging pests will have impacts on management in both perennial and annual crops, though relatively little is known regarding management of insects in biomass crops. For crops without significant food or feed uses (primary-use biomass crops), immediate research needs are general because little is known regarding their insect herbivores and insect-transmitted pathogens or their effects on biomass. Recent work in perennial grasses has revealed species which were previously undescribed, described but without known host associations or other general biological information, or well-known pests of food or feed crops. Conversely, in food or feed crops modified for biomass production (secondary-use), information on pest biology and management should overlap with their close-relatives (e.g., corn for food or feed versus tropical maize for biomass), with some changes needed in economic thresholds or management strategies. To the degree that biomass crops and food crops share insects and insect-transmitted pathogens, insects provide an avenue for (positive or negative) interactions between biomass and food crops. Unfortunately, broad conclusions about the effects of biomass crops are difficult to make because the outcomes will depend on which biomass crops are planted, where they are planted, and how they are managed. Additional investment and interdisciplinary research are needed to address new pest management challenges posed by the expansion of biomass crops.

Last Modified: 10/25/2014
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