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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Sustainable Pest Management Strategies for Arid-land Crops

Location: Pest Management and Biocontrol Research

Title: Impact of bioenergy crops on pests, natural enemies and pollinators in agricultural and non-crop landscapes

Authors
item Mccornack, Brian -
item Kring, Tim -
item Wiedenmann, R. -
item Giles, Kris -
item Baum, Kristen -
item Hagler, James

Submitted to: National Symposium on New Crops and New Uses
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: March 31, 2014
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Sustainability of the nation's bioenergy feedstock production relies on selection and placement of energy crops that are compatible with or enhance existing agricultural and natural systems. Biofuel crops may serve as a source of pest insects, their natural enemies, or pollinators, that subsequently move to surrounding crops. Alternatively, biofuel crops may attract these insects from surrounding crops, thereby altering the impact and management of pests in the larger production system. Knowledge of insect movement between biofuel and conventional cropping systems is required to anticipate the overall impacts of biofuel crops and to develop strategies that maximize their benefits. An ARS scientist at Maricopa, AZ and university collaborators in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas are using novel markers to document the movement of selected insects among biofuel and conventional crops. The findings from this research will advance our knowledge of risks and benefits associated with placing large areas of biofuel crops into established agricultural production systems. Methods developed in these studies will also be of direct use to studies of other energy crops in other agricultural production systems.

Technical Abstract: Sustainability of the nation's bioenergy feedstock production relies on selection and placement of energy crops that efficiently generate biomass or oilseed without compromising existing agricultural or natural systems. Pest and beneficial arthropods (e.g., pollinators, predators) will occur in these feedstock crops, but the effects of habitat utilization are unknown, as there is little experience with expansive monocultures of biofuel crops. These crops may serve as a nursery (source) producing pests or beneficial arthropods, or may serve to attract and trap these organisms (sink). These source/sink relationships can be beneficial or deleterious to the feedstock crop or to the overall agroecosystem. Our research seeks to identify the magnitude and direction of these impacts. Project objectives are to determine source/sink relationships in a first-generation biofuel crop (canola) and a second-generation biofuel crop (switchgrass) by: 1) identifying the arthropods inhabiting the energy crop and quantifying their relative abundance, 2) evaluating the importance of beneficial organisms for maintaining pest control in the energy crop, and 3) determining the extent and timing of movement of selected pest and beneficial species among the energy crop and adjacent agricultural production systems. During the first three years of this study (2011-2013), we intensively sampled pests, beneficial insects, including pollinators, and floral resources in and around canola production systems in Kansas and Oklahoma. In addition, arthropod movement was evaluated in simple (predominantly wheat:canola landscapes) to diverse habitats (largely unmanaged grasses and other herbaceous perennials mixed with canola and wheat production systems) through novel protein mark recapture studies using protein-specific enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs). In addition, exclusion studies were conducted to evaluate natural enemy efficacy (not discussed here). The findings from this research advance our knowledge of risks and benefits associated with placing large biofuel crop monocultures into established agricultural landscapes. In addition, the methods developed are directly transferrable to other energy crops and agricultural production systems.

Last Modified: 8/21/2014
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