Progress report for LNE20-406R
Problem, novel approach and justification. Sweet corn, produced on over 5,400 Northeastern farms1, is the second largest processing crop2. In 2017, its production value in five Northeastern states (DE, MD, NJ, NY, PA) totaled $110 million2. Herbicides and cultivation are used routinely in sweet corn plantings. However, herbicides registered for sweet corn are dwindling because of no-reregistration of older compounds and suspensions over environmental concerns3. Cultivation increases fuel usage, and farmers’ reliance on cultivation and manual weeding increases their production cost. Further, sweet corn is vulnerable to three yield reducing insects (corn earworm, fall armyworm, and European corn borer)4,5,6. Although some GMO sweet corn cultivars are protected from these insects, similar to insecticides, resistance problems reduce their efficacy period6. Thus, there is a need for additional practices that target weeds and insects concomitantly. Reduced tillage with cover cropping can reduce insect and weed pests, and production cost through enhanced natural pest suppression and reduced tillage, pesticide and fuel use. However, farmers are reluctant to adopt this combination partially from fears of inadequate pest suppression7, accompanied with limited knowledge on implementation. Thus, opportunities exist to create and share innovative tactics that lessen farmers’ reliance on tillage and boosts their confidence in implementing novel solutions. Hypothesis and research plan. We hypothesize using reduced-tillage with living and dying cover crop combinations will suppress pests equally or more and at reduced cost than conventional tillage with or without herbicides. This hypothesis will be tested through field studies. Whole plot treatments will include sweet corn grown under: conventional till, no-till with cover crop residue, living mulch + cover crop residue or living mulch + winter killed residue. Subplot factors will include herbicide or no herbicide. We will collect data on insect and weed pests, natural enemy efficacy, time spent manually weeding, input cost, yield and profits. Outreach plan. Methods for disseminating findings and engaging stakeholders include: 1) field day and walking tour events at research and commercial farms, 2) direct farmer participation, 3) uploading information to MD extension and commodity websites, 4) integration of findings into local and regional extension publications and trade journals, 5) presentations at local and regional commodity meetings, and 6) training educators and crop advisors at crop schools and in-service meetings. Project objective. Objectives include generating novel information on the synergistic usage of conservation tillage and winter cover cropping to concurrently manage insect and weed pests. Further goals include using findings to help sweet corn growers reduce their disproportionate reliance on GMO technology, pesticides and/or tillage by generating knowledge on low input practices that provide similar benefits. Potential impacts include similar or enhanced yields at lower operational and environmental cost, which will boost Northeast sweet corn farmers’ confidence, profits and sustainability.
Objectives include generating novel information on the synergistic usage of conservation tillage and winter cover cropping to concurrently manage insect and weed pests. Further goals include helping sweet corn growers reduce their disproportionate reliance on GMO technology, pesticides and/or tillage by generating knowledge on low input practices that provide similar benefits. Potential impacts include similar or enhanced yields at lower operational and environmental cost, which will boost Northeast sweet corn farmers’ confidence, profits and sustainability.
- (Educator and Researcher)
- (Educator and Researcher)
- (Educator and Researcher)
Objectives. The overall aim of this field study was to investigate the impact of two interplanted mixed clover living mulch systems on beneficial arthropods in sweet corn and compare these treatments with a traditional monoculture sweet corn planting. Interests included determining how the different treatments impact 1) natural enemy abundance and 2) the level of sweet corn ears damaged by insect feeding.
Methods. Treatment plots were replicated four times and each block was placed in separate fields with similar crop production histories. Treatments within a block were separated by at least 40 ft (12 m) of regularly mowed natural vegetation. Each block contained three cover crop treatments. Sweet corn grown: i) in conventional tilled cover crop (green manure), ii) interplanted with a premium clover mix [red clover 50%, Alice white clover and Ladino clover both 25%] + cereal rye or iii) a 3-way cover crop mix + forage radish. The 3-way cover crop mix consisted of yellow blossom sweet clover, medium red clover and Ladino clover at 44, 33 and 23%, respectively. Experimental plots were ~ 38 x 40 ft2 (11.6 x 12.2 m2) and each plot contained 12 sweet corn rows planted at an interrow spacing of 36 in (91 cm).
Rationale. From past research, we have found that red clover when interplanted with vegetable crops can help enhance the abundance of natural enemies within the cropping system. The interest included looking at different clovers planted as mixtures as we hypothesized that greater diversity afforded by mixed species clover may attract a greater number and diversity of beneficial arthropods.
Data collection: Natural enemies were estimated via two methods. Visual counts of corn plants and using yellow sticky cards to monitor aerial insects.
Pitfall: Unfortunately, at study initiation it was noted that the cover crops did not get established in one of the field sites; and prior to completion of the sampling events including rating of corn ears for insect damage, raccoons destroyed the remaining corn plots.
None at this time
Education & Outreach Activities and Participation Summary
- Title: Integrated weed management with plasticulture: The good, the bad and the ugly. https://umd.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=e9315f75-53de-4da0-a2c9-ae2201134133
- Title: Mowing: A casually thought of Integrated Weed Management tool https://umd.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=2d76c2ad-b077-4195-927a-af520113d1ad
- Title: Tillage: a well-known tradesman of integrated weed management https://umd.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=961fce0b-d358-4c7c-8f94-ae22011340d4
- Title: Herbicides and integrated weed management https://umd.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=3676faff-e137-45fb-9d91-ae22011340d2
- Hooks, C.R.R. and V. Yurchak. 2022. Symposium title: Cover Crop and Pest Management. Talk title: Assessing the efficacy of using a perennial and self-reseeded cover crop for pest suppression in a sweet corn soybean rotation system. Northeast Cover Crop Conference. Virtual March 10th-11th. Attendance 40
- Nunez, D., V. Yurchak, A. Leslie, CRR Hooks. 2022. Symposium title: Agricultural Entomology. Talk title: Investigating French marigold (Tagetes patula L.) as an insectary plant for sweet corn plantings. Eastern Branch Entomological Society of America. Philadelphia, PA April 24-26
- Hooks, C.R.R., G. Chen, H.M. Kahl, A.W. Leslie and V. Yurchak. 2022. Cerruti’s adventures into managing insects and weeds with a living mulch. Department of Environmental, Science, Policy and Management Fall Seminar Series, University of California, Berkeley. November 3, 2022.
- Yurchak, V., A. Leslie and C.R.R. Hooks. Pros and cons of using red clover to manage weeds. Beltsville Agricultural Research Center Pesticide Recertification Conference. March 03. Attendance 77
- Hooks, C.R.R. and V. Yurchak. 2022. Using a living mulch as part of an IWM program in a sweet corn crop rotation system. University of Maryland Eastern Shore 19th Annual Small Farm Conference. November 04-05. Princess Anne, MD Attendance 20
- Hooks, C.R.R. and D. Joseph. 2022. Mowing: a casually thought of integrated weed management tool.
Vegetable and Fruit News 13(4), 11-17.
- Hooks, C.R.R. and D. Joseph. 2022. Flaming as a weed management tool. Vegetable and Fruit News. 13 (3), 4-7.
Fall 2022 Guest Lecturer, Class Title: A story of a perennial clover’s journey in pest management. Sustainable Agriculture (ENST441 or NRSC441). 30 students
Leslie, A. and C.R.R. Hooks. 2022. Using clover mixtures to mitigate insect and weed pests in sweet corn. Crops Twilight Tour and Ice Cream Social. Upper Marlboro, MD August 03, 2022.
- New living mulch and cover crop combinations for weed suppression (Website)
- An introduction to integrated weed management (Training Agenda)
- Prevention and Crop Competitiveness: Tools of Integrated Weed Management (Training Agenda)
- Crop Rotation: A Cornerstone of An Introduction to Integrated Weed Management (Training Agenda)