Our proposed project will empower growers to make more sustainable management decisions through research assessing efficacy and selectivity of currently registered and experimental insecticides and grower education. Our cotton integrated pest management (IPM) program integrates selective insecticides with natural enemies to effectively control key pests. However, for newly registered and experimental compounds, compatibility with IPM, based on efficacy and selectivity to natural enemies, is unknown. Thus, grower’s insecticide decisions are based solely on information provided by manufacturers and product costs. Poor decisions may increase grower’s costs and disrupt system sustainability.
In this project, we will develop information about efficacy and effects of currently registered and experimental whitefly and Lygus bug insecticides on natural enemies in cotton and investigate the effect of plot size. We will educate growers and their pest control advisors about insecticide selectivity, the economic and environmental benefits of selective insecticides, and which experimental and registered insecticides are compatible with a sustainable cotton IPM program.
Outreach will include Extension publications and presentations in Cooperative Extension meetings, workshops, and hands-on grower involvement. A producer advisory committee will provide technical advice throughout the project and participate in outreach learning activities. Effective implementation will help growers avoid costly investments in products incompatible with IPM, saving them money while better supporting ecosystem services and environmental health area-wide. Additional options for chemical rotation in our IPM guidelines will also help delay or prevent insecticide resistance. Research on plot size effects, shared in peer-reviewed articles and scientific meetings, will improve interpretation of future applied studies on natural enemies, increasing the knowledge base for sustainable agriculture.
This project addresses Western SARE goals by contributing to grower’s profitability and improving quality of life through integration of biological and chemical control, while reducing health and environmental risks with the use of selective and less toxic insecticides.
Our goals are to develop better information about the effect of currently registered and experimental whitefly and Lygus bug insecticides on NTOs, i.e., natural enemies, and to investigate the effect of plot size on the biocontrol function and density of natural enemies in NTO studies. We expect that the data from this project will assist cotton growers in selecting insecticides that minimize disruption of natural enemies and will improve scientific interpretation of NTO data for mobile insects in future research studies. The objectives are:
1) To test the selectivity and efficacy of currently registered and experimental insecticides towards natural enemies of whitefly (and other pests) in cotton
2) To investigate the effects of plot size on population dynamics and biocontrol function in non-target organism studies
3) To enhance growers’ knowledge of insecticide selectivity, and teach them about the selectivity of the candidate insecticides while promoting the benefits of using selective insecticides for a sustainable cotton production through our Educational Outreach Plan
Objective 1: To test the selectivity and efficacy of currently registered and experimental insecticides on the main natural enemies of whitefly (and other pests) in cotton.
We conducted field trials, as described in the proposal, to develop information about the selectivity of currently registered and experimental whitefly and Lygus bug insecticides on natural enemies in cotton.
We tested the effects of two registered insecticides used in cotton in Arizona (cyantraniliprole and flupyradifurone), one insecticide that will be soon registered in our state (pyrifluquinazon), and one experimental insecticide. We sampled the densities of natural enemies, whiteflies, and Lygus bug prior to and after insecticide application.
Objective 2: To investigate the effects of plot size on population dynamics and biocontrol function in non-target organism studies.
We established three different plot sizes in field studies: 80 by 80 feet (0.059 ha), 60 by 60 feet (0.033 ha), and 40 by 40 feet (0.015 ha). The number of natural enemies samples taken varied according to the plot size, as described in the proposal.
We used an in situ sentinel prey method to measure the biocontrol function. We identified and documented sources of mortality and prey removal of whitefly nymphs and eggs by natural enemies in the field.
We completed processing of all samples, counting and identifying natural enemies, as well as the determination of sources of prey removal and mortality for biocontrol function in late December, 2018 (Obj. 1 & 2). Data analysis will begin this Jan 2019.
The last spray was deployed on August 30th, and the last samples collected on September 13th. 1,160 samples from 2018 were processed by the end of 2018. Currently, these data are being entered and proofed. Data analysis will begin this month (Jan 2019).
Educational & Outreach Activities
Objective 3: To enhance growers’ knowledge of insecticide selectivity, and teach them about the selectivity of the candidate insecticides while promoting the benefits of using selective insecticides for a sustainable cotton production through our Educational Outreach Plan.
Prior to the initiation of this project, we formed an advisory committee including one grower and three licensed Pest Control Advisors (PCAs). In Arizona, PCAs are highly educated and experienced pest management consultants employed by growers (farmers) to provide expertise in insect, weed and disease management. In most cases, PCAs are the primary decision makers on pest management for the growers*. As such, they provide a key target audience for this project. Because one PCA usually works with multiple growers, education targeting PCAs has the effect of multiplying our outcomes by impacting thousands of acres with the decisions they make. Our advisory committee members have been instrumental in discussing and approving our research design and project plan, including outreach. They have attended our Extension meetings, and have also agreed to provide reviews of Extension publications and posters, and to pilot test surveys. They received a collection of pinned natural enemies and a book about the natural enemies of the Southwest in consideration of their important project contributions. They work as field cooperators on this project. We have asked them to sample natural enemies prior to and after insecticide applications in their commercial fields, in order to qualitatively validate the project research, while giving producers an experiential understanding of natural enemies in their commercial fields and the impact of insecticides on them.
Our Educational Outreach Plan was fully integrated into our ongoing Extension outreach program, which includes presentations, workshops and field days. We have been teaching growers and pest control advisers about some general aspects of insecticide selectivity, the degree in which an insecticide is selective, how research on insecticide selectivity is done, and the benefits of choosing selective insecticides for a sustainable pest management. We will teach growers and PCAs about the results of the research after our data analysis is complete.
Educational outreach included our standard Extension meetings throughout Arizona, which typically include a mix of growers (75% of attendees) and PCAs and others (25%). The Xerces Society is a non-profit organization that focuses on the conservation of invertebrates considered to be essential to biological diversity and ecosystem health—this presentation reached 20 farmers. The WERA 1017 meeting is an annual gathering of Extension Specialists, including IPM Coordinators from most Western states—our meeting was focused on sharing information about reducing risks from pest management practices and communicating pesticide risk to farmers and other clientele. Within that context, we presented project information on selective insecticides, including a preliminary draft of our forthcoming Extension Bulletin, which will be an outcome of this project. Finally, we have included numbers from five summer meetings in northern Mexico (Sonora and Chihuahua), reaching cotton growers and technicos, highly trained pest management professionals that function similarly to our PCAs in Arizona, providing advice and pest management decision support to growers.
As of this reporting, we have taught growers, PCAs and others in the following Extension meetings in Arizona:
- Xerces Society meeting, Tucson, AZ, April 17, 2018
- Desert Agriculture Conference (professional pest control advisors), Fort McDowell, AZ, May 9, 2018
- Western Extension Research Administrative committee (WERA-1017), presentation to Western IPM Extension / Research professionals, Portland, OR, May 16, 2018
- Extension Training in Mexicali, Sonora, Mexico, May 24, 2018
- Extension Tent-Talk (Field Interaction) in Yuma, AZ, June 1, 2018
- Extension New Technologies Workshop in Maricopa, June 6, 2018
- Extension Training in Mexicali, Sonora, Mexico, June 11-13, 2018 (2 events)
- Extension Training in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Mexico, June 26-29, 2018 (2 events)
- Extension Tent-Talk (Field Interaction) in Goodyear, AZ, June 28, 2018*
- Extension Field Crops Clinic in Casa Grande, AZ, July 25, 2018
- Extension Field Crops Clinic in Marana, AZ, July 26, 2018
- 7th Annual Central Arizona Farmer Field Day (Field Interaction) in Maricopa, AZ, Oct 10, 2018
- Winter field crop Extension meeting in Marana, AZ, Jan 10, 2019*
- Field tours with Monsanto and other registrants, Fall 2018 (2 events)
We will continue our Extension work throughout 2019, attending other Extension Meetings in Central Arizona, the Desert Agriculture Conference on the Gila River Indian Reservation (also Central AZ), and the Southwest Agriculture Summit in Yuma, in Southwest Arizona.
We will also produce at least one Extension publication in early 2019 to distribute in Extension meetings to growers and pest control advisers. All educational material will be available online.
We anticipate publication of a journal article to share the results of this project with scientific colleagues and encourage similar approaches in other systems. This will be completed after the termination of this one-year project.
*Note: Because PCAs are pest management decision-makers for farmers, their numbers are included in the following section in questions related to changes in knowledge and behavior.
The outcomes of our project will contribute to agriculture sustainability and profitability of cotton growers. Both efficacy and selectivity of these compounds were tested, and thus, growers will be able to choose the insecticides proven to be efficient in controlling key pests and safe to natural enemies. The use of insecticides with such features will impact cotton productivity because losses are reduced or prevented when insecticides with proven efficacy are applied and when natural enemies are preserved in the crop system. Our research will support growers by allowing them to make more informed decisions, with lower costs, and increased productivity and profit.
This project will improve the quality of life of growers and sustain environmental quality and natural resources. Selective insecticides are less toxic than broad-spectrum chemistries: their use minimizes impacts on water, soil, and non-target organisms. Also, selective insecticides tend to be safer to handle and pose lower potential risks from exposure, which directly impacts on the health and quality of life of growers and farm workers.
Education is a key element for life enhancement and the promotion of sustainable practices. Through our outreach program, we hope to have increased grower’s awareness and knowledge of insecticide selectivity, changed or influenced their behavior by starting or continuing to favor the use of selective insecticides, and taught them how use of selective products contributes to sustainable pest management. Changes in knowledge of producers have been measured in two trainings so far (Project Outcomes reflect knowledge measured in two meetings*). More data on knowledge change of producers will be collected and summarized in upcoming meetings, and reported in the final project report.
During the course of this project, I become aware of how Integrated Pest Management (IPM) can contribute to sustainable agriculture by testing insecticides that are potentially selective to natural enemies. I learned that insecticides proven to be selective are able to minimize non-target species effects and environmental impacts and become part of insecticides options for growers. I also became aware that new recommendations and/or registrations of insecticides will support effective resistance management for whiteflies and Lygus bugs, facilitating a longer lifespan of these products in the future, and thus contribute to resistance management and the sustainability of pest control in cotton production.
Once the data from our project have been analyzed, we will have an improved understanding of the selectivity of the tested insecticides, and will teach growers and PCAs which products are most compatible with a sustainable cotton production in Arizona and the desert Southwest.