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ARS Home » Plains Area » Brookings, South Dakota » Integrated Cropping Systems Research » Research » Research Project #430020

Research Project: Productive Cropping Systems Based on Ecological Principles of Pest Management

Location: Integrated Cropping Systems Research

Project Number: 3080-21220-006-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Oct 26, 2015
End Date: Sep 30, 2020

Objective 1. Develop strategies to manage insects in cropping systems, focusing on biology with regards to resistance evolution, insect health and diversity, and the value of these strategies to sustainable crop production. [NP304, Component 3, Problem Statement 3A2]. Subobjective 1a. Assess the risk to susceptible western corn rootworm, and hence insect resistance management, from adult feeding on corn tissue expressing toxic Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt)-proteins. Subobjective 1b. Evaluate neonicotinoid seed treatments for usefulness to U.S. crop production. Subobjective 1c. Compare pest and beneficial insect levels between a soybean pest-management system that uses an aphid-resistant cultivar versus one that relies on conventional insecticides. Subobjective 1d. Compare pest and beneficial insect levels, soil properties, plant growth, yield, and seed composition of soybean when grown alone and with an oilseed relay crop. Subobjective 1e. Evaluate cover-cropping scenarios within crop rotations that encourage ecosystem services from beneficial insects. Subobjective 1f. Develop procedures for hazard assessments of pesticides to non-target organisms. Subobjective 1g. Establish exposure pathways for pesticides and non-target organisms and determine how plant diversity within the farmscape affects these exposure pathways. Objective 2. Develop innovative strategies for managing weeds in dynamic cropping systems, and assess the benefits of these strategies that rely on bottom-up approaches to weed management (such as the use of cover crops) within diverse crop rotations. [NP304, Component 2, Problem Statement 2A2]. Subobjective 2a. Develop a methodology to convert red clover to cropland without tillage. Subobjective 2b. Determine the best annual clovers to use as cover crops to control post-harvest weeds without tillage.

Pest management is crucial in cropping systems, and strategies to control weeds and insect pests need to be integrated with agronomic and other management goals to achieve sustainable cropping systems. In the northern Great Plains, corn rootworms, soybean aphids, and weeds greatly reduce agricultural productivity and profitability through yield loss and costly control measures. Widely adopted management tactics have initially reduced economic loss from these pests, but their utility needs reassessment in light of herbicide-tolerant weeds, insect adaptation to resistance transgenes, secondary pest outbreaks, and unwitting impacts on pollinators, natural enemies, and soil health. This project plan proposes research to address strategies used against major pests such as corn rootworms and soybean aphid, refine tactics for weed management in organic production systems, and determine the value and drawbacks to pest management and ecosystem services from diversifying crop rotations, incorporating cover crops, and using various plant-incorporated protectants. The research will be instrumental in developing management practices that increase farming efficiency and improve environmental and economic sustainability.