Non Technical Summary
This project addresses integrated management strategies in a variety of Alabama cropping systems. Alabama agriculture is plagued by arthropod pests that consistently reduce yield and quality in traditional row crops such as corn and cotton, perennial grass forages, and emerging crops such as industrial hemp. To ensure economic and environmental sustainability of agriculture, a solid integrated pest management (IPM) plan is necessary. This project will examine and determine the efficacy of multiple IPM strategies for pests including chemical, biological, and cultural control methods. Research will be conducted on pests that are of economic importance to Alabama growers including but not limited to brown marmorated stink bug, bermudagrass stem maggot, fall armyworm, and corn earworm. Additional research will be conducted as necessary on new or invasive insects as issues arise. Results will be communicated to local growers through Extension programming and development of educational materials, as well as through peer-reviewed publications.
Animal Health Component
Research Effort Categories
Goals / Objectives
The goal of this research is to develop practical, sustainable IPM strategies for Alabama growers that will lead to reduced reliance on chemical control measures for agricultural production.1. Examine IPM strategies for new or emerging pests corn production2. Evaluate IPM strategies for controlling insect pests of grass forages3. Identify best management practices for controlling pests in industrial hemp production
1. Examine IPM strategies for new or emerging pest issues in Alabama cornStink BugsYellow pyramid traps baited with BMSB-specific pheromones will be used to trap stink bugs adjacent to corn, soybeans, and along tree lines at multiple locations in the state. These will be deployed in the springand sampled weekly through the fall. Prior to harvest, ears at each site will be sampled for stink bug injury.We will also conduct a mark-recapture study by marking stink bugs adjacent to a crop (soybean, corn) with a protein marker. Brown marmorated and southern green stink bugs will be studied in this test. Southern green stink bugs in carinata will be marked then tracked into corn. BMSB in adjacent wooded areas will be marked and their movement monitored into soybean or corn.Ear-Feeding Caterpillar Pests The effectiveness of current Bt toxins using five varieties of sweet corn will be examined over a multi-year period.Trials will be conducted once a year at two locations to account for variable caterpillar populations and weather patterns. The trials will be a split plot randomized complete block with half the plots receiving insecticide treatments and the other half remaining chemical-free. At the end of each season, we will calculate the costs associated with each treatment that incorporates seed, sprays, damage, marketability, and yield.Over a multi-year period, the efficacy of Bt traits in field corn will also be examined. Control by Bt for fall armyworm, corn earworm, southwestern corn borer will be evaluated in field trials. Randomized complete block experiments will be used to compare isogenic lines with and without Bt traits.New or Invasive PestsResearch will be conducted as needed on any new or invasive pests that arise in Alabama corn.2. Evaluate integrated pest management strategies for controlling insect pests of grass foragesBermudagrass Stem MaggotA two-year research study will be conducted at five commercial fields in Alabama. Collaborating producers will be identified in various regions throughout the state based on previous field and BSM history.In late summer of each study year, forage samples will be collected from the fields to determine stem damage and forage quality. In 30 locations throughout each field, all the forage within a 0.1m² frame will be cut and removed from the field in a sample bag. A sample of stems from each bag will be subsampled to determine percent damage then returned to the original sample bag. Each sample will be oven dried and yield calculated as kg dry forage/ha.Hay samples will be submitted to the Auburn University Soil, Forage, and Water Testing Laboratory for analysis of dry matter (DM), neutral detergent fiber (NDF), acid detergent fiber (ADF), crude protein (CP), total digestible nutrients (TDN), and relative forage quality (RFQ). The data on percentage stems with BSM damage will be used to calculate economic injury level (EIL) to help guide management decisions in Alabama.Bahiagrass BillbugBiological control options will be explored for control of billbugs, particularly the use of entomopathogenic nematodes in grass systems. Steinernema carpocapsae, Steinernema feltiae, and Heterorhabditis bacteriophora will be examined as potential as biological control agents. Two different combinations of species will be applied in fields with known infestations.Soil samples will be taken 30-60 days after the initial application to examine persistence of the nematodes in the soil. Samples will be repeated every 3-6 months to determine establishment.Fall ArmywormA trial will be conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of insecticides, new and/or existing, on control of fall armyworm. Examples for new insecticide evaluations include Falwigen.3. Identify best management practices for controlling pests in industrial hemp productionMulti-year field studies will be conducted to identify economic pests, suitable hemp varieties for Alabama, and fertility recommendations. Field trials will be conducted on plastic-mulched beds, 5' apart, with 6' centers at the E.V. Smith Research Center.Screen 15 hemp varieties grown for cannabidiol (CBD) to identify those best suited for Alabama. We will evaluate approximately 15 varieties of CBD hemp. All varieties will be replicated four times in a replicated complete block design. Approximately one week after planting, data collection will begin. Randomly selected plantsfrom the center of each plot will be measured for plant height and plant width. Time to flowering will be recorded for additionalplants.Four times throughout the growing season, samples will be taken from each plot for screening. A panel of eleven cannabinoids will be provided, including delta 9-THC, total THC, and CBD. The top 20 centimeters of the plant's primary stem will be clipped, secured in a paper bag, and removed for analysis by ACS Laboratory in Florida.At harvest, final plant measurements will be taken. Harvest time will be determined for each variety by monitoring the trichomes on the plant. Time to maturation for each variety will be monitored and recorded. Floral biomass will be used as a metric of yield. A representative 10 plants from each plot will be used for yield measurements.Identify major pests found in hemp over the growing season.The experiment will be monitored weekly for the appearance of plant diseases. When a disease is suspected, tissue samples will be collected for laboratory analysis at the Auburn University Plant Diagnostic Lab. Plant pathogens will be identified using macro and microscopic examination of infected plant tissue, isolation onto selective media, serology, molecular techniques (PRC and sequencing) and applying Koch's Postulates.Weekly sampling will begin one week after transplanting to collect arthropods found on hemp.Sampling methods may include pan traps, sticky traps, and visual sampling. Three Heliothis traps with corn earworm, Helicoverpa zea, pheromone will be put on the outside of the field to monitor for adult moth movement. All samples will be returned to the laboratory and identified to the lowest possible taxonomic level.Evaluate the impact of variable nitrogen treatments on growth, flower quality, yield, and chemical composition in hemp.This objective will evaluate various application rates of nitrogen (50, 100, 150, 200 lbs/acre) with four replications each in a RCBD. Nitrogen will be applied as a split application with a portion of the nitrogen applied pre-plant when the beds are formed and the remainder injected later in the growing season.At the beginning of the experiment, soil samples will be taken from each plot and sent to the Auburn University Soil Testing Laboratory for nutrient analysis (ICAP + N). Leaf tissue samples will be taken at three sample dates - pre-flowering, flowering, and post-flowering. Twenty to thirty MRMLs (most recently matured leaves) will be sampled from each plot and sent to the Auburn University Soil Testing Laboratory for analysis. Weekly, randomly selected plants in each plot will be measured for plant height and plant width.At harvest, three randomly selected flower samples will be analyzed from each plot for cannabinoids. A panel of eleven cannabinoids will be provided, including delta 9-THC, total THC, and CBD. The top 20 centimeters of the plant's primary stem will be clipped, secured in a paper bag, and removed for analysis. Samples will be sent to and analyzed at ACS Laboratory, Sun City Center, FL. Immediately prior to harvest, final plant samples and measurements will be taken. Floral biomass will be used to measure yield upon harvest. 10 plants from each plot will be used for yield measurements. An economic analysis will be conducted at the end of the trial using the current price of fertilizer and CBD to find the most economical rate of fertilizer.