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Alternative flea beetle management without neonicotinoids

Farming Smarter Project

Timeline: 2020-2021

Project Contact: Ken Coles

 

Project #2 Contact:

Dr. Hector Carcamo

 

Abstract

Public pressure to eliminate the use of neonicotinoids (neonics) in agriculture is mounting and evidenced by legislated banning of use in several countries in Europe as well as in Ontario. Concerns are related to negative impacts on pollinator health and recently to aquatic invertebrates. Nevertheless, these seed treatments when used in small amounts and safely, are incredibly valuable to protect canola seedlings from insect pests such as flee beetles. The potential loss of this valuable tool may put millions of acres at risk of significant crop damage and may also increase the use of foliar insecticides which incur a greater risk of negative environmental impacts. This project will attempt to evaluate potential losses and test best available alternate management strategies to mitigate losses.

Objective

Project #1

  • Assess the potential for increased seeding rates as a cultural tool to mitigate losses from flea beetle damage
  • Assess the best alternative seed treatments at standard and high seeding rates
  • Assess benefits or losses associated with additional foliar applications and confirm threshold recommendations and their impact to beneficial insects
  • Assess potential environmental effects of alternate practices
  • Quantify the potential losses to farmers incurred by the loss of neonicotinoids

Project #2

  • Determine the economic threshold for flea beetles in seedling Brassica napus
  • Evaluate various management strategies

Method

Project #1

Farming Smarter led project aims to evaluate the best available alternative agronomic practices using rigorous on-farm research. A series of field scale trials established across Alberta will assess these alternate practices with a focus on efficacy, environmental effects, and impacts on production.

Trials will be carried out in full size quarter sections, using field scale equipment to seed, weigh wagons and GPS monitors to collect yield data, and GIS technology to set up and manage trials. A total of 4 trials per year will be conducted across Alberta.

Farming Smarter will manage local sites, and will work with suitable collaborators in central and northern Alberta. Farming Smarter has developed a network of growers with the skills and experience necessary to help carry out effective field scale research trials. We hope that Canola Council Agronomists will be involved if resources are available.

Trials will be randomized and replicated in each field (RCBD design). However, due to the inherent variability of a field environment researchers will customize trial design according to the unique facets of each producer/field in the study. For example, treatment size will be contingent on the equipment used (seeder, swather, combine) and characteristics of specific fields hosting trials will help determine trial design.

Four treatments will be applied in each field. One treatment will implement current practices with neonic treated seed. Three contrasting treatments will allow for evaluation of post-neonic flea beetle strategies (alternate seed treatment, high seeding rate, and foliar applications)

Treatments:
1. Neonic treated seed – 80 seeds per m^2 seeding rate
2. Lumiderm treated seed – 80 seeds per m^2 seeding rate
3. Lumiderm treated seed -120 seeds per m^2 seeding rate
4. Lumiderm treated seed – 80 seeds per m^2 plus in crop foliar insecticide

Project #2

Farming Smarter will conduct small plot trials in collaboration with Dr. Hector Carcamo with early and late seeding dates.

Low seeding rate (3 kg/ha)

1. Control (Fungicide only treated seeds)
2. Seed treatment (Insecticide + fungicide treated seeds)
3. Foliar insecticide spray @ 25% defoliation (Fungicide only treated seeds)

Optimal seeding rate (6 kg/ha)

1. Control (Fungicide only treated seeds)
2. Seed treatment (Insecticide + fungicide treated seeds)
3. Foliar insecticide spray @ 25% defoliation (Fungicide only treated seeds)

High seeding rate (12 kg/ha)

1. Control (Fungicide only treated seeds)
2. Seed treatment (Insecticide + fungicide treated seeds)
3. Foliar insecticide spray @ 25% defoliation (Fungicide only treated seeds)

Results

These projects are ongoing. Results will be provided when they become available.

        

Recommendations

Check back fall 2021!

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