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Research Project: New Crop Production and Protection Practices to Increase Sugarcane Ratoon Longevity and Maximize Economic Sustainability

Location: Sugarcane Research

Title: Kentucky soybean farmers’ supportiveness of two integrated pest and pollinator management tactics

item Penn, Hannah
item PENN, JARROD - Louisiana State University
item CUNNINGHAM-MINNICK, MICHAEL - University Of Massachusetts
item HU, WUYANG - The Ohio State University

Submitted to: Journal of Integrated Pest Management
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/26/2021
Publication Date: 3/17/2021
Citation: Penn, H., Penn, J.M., Cunningham-Minnick, M., Hu, W. 2021. Kentucky soybean farmers’ supportiveness of two integrated pest and pollinator management tactics. Journal of Integrated Pest Management. 12(1):1-9.

Interpretive Summary: Integrated pest management (IPM) was developed to promote the most effective and least risky [economically and environmentally] option for the prevention and mitigation of insect pest problems. IPM practices on farms may include methods to protect pollinators such as limiting or changing insecticide applications as well as keeping select areas uncultivated to promote the presence of pollinators and other beneficial organisms such as spiders and ladybugs. The willingness of US row crop farmers to adopt IPM strategies and their farm management priorities that inform their IPM adoption have not been well evaluated. To help address this information gap, in 2017 we asked Kentucky soybean farmers to complete an online survey about their farming practices, priorities for pest management, attitudes towards pollinators, and their willingness to adopt IPM practices. In general, most farmers had already adopted some IPM tactics such as minimizing insecticide applications for when the pest problem was great. We also found that survey respondents thought that farmers had the ability to impact pollinator populations and that pollinators potentially contribute to crop yield increases. However, many farmers were unwilling to maintain uncultivated areas for pollinators and other beneficial insects as they viewed these areas as contributing too much to the weed pressure within their fields. We concluded that some IPM practices might be harder to implement on farms as they may pose a trade-off with other farm management priorities.

Technical Abstract: Beneficial insect conservation in agriculture is often studied in the context of integrated pest management (IPM). For instance, vegetative field edges provide valuable habitat and changing the timing of insecticidal sprays decreases risk for pollinators and natural enemies of crop pests. However, the attitudes and confidence of US growers towards IPM implementation in traditional row-crop management remain understudied. We developed an online survey using a convenience sample and surveyed Kentucky soybean growers to understand their current pest and general management practices, beliefs about sources of pests/weeds, and attitudes towards pollinators. We also asked about their willingness to implement two management tactics – maintaining tree lined field edges and changing the timing of their insecticide sprays to avoid flowering. Our data indicate that Kentucky soybean growers already use several IPM approaches such as crop rotation, no-till soil management, and limited insecticide application for when pests were abundant. When asked about their management of field edges, the most common responses included removal of trees/shrubs, mowing, or herbicide application. Growers also believed that nationally, farmers can influence pollinator populations and that a portion of the soybean yield is due to pollinator activity within crop fields. However, they were less willing to maintain tree lines as habitat for natural enemies and pollinators out of concern for increased spread of weeds and insect pests. Given these findings, we need to evaluate the perceived and actual trade-offs of weed and pest management in future on-farm conservation efforts for beneficial insects such as pollinators and natural enemies.