Conservation and Augmentative Biological Control in the Northern Plains – Providing Tools for Agriculture Professionals

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2015: $68,182.00
Projected End Date: 06/30/2017
Grant Recipient: Montana State University
Region: Western
State: Montana
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Michael Ivie
Montana State University-Bozeman

Annual Reports


Not commodity specific


  • Pest Management: biological control

    Proposal abstract:

    Biological control is an area of pest management in which the Northern Plains agricultural producers and others need training to keep up with rapidly developing technology. The purpose of this project is to build agricultural professional understanding of biocontrol techniques in order to incorporate them into current integrated pest management (IPM) programs, and ultimately mitigate environmental pressure from the use of conventional insecticides. This three-phase training proposal will cover the implementation of biocontrol (conservation and augmentation) in crop production systems in the Northern Plains. Objective 1 Course Development: Over 18 months, biocontrol methods will be implemented for the control of insect pests (Wheat Stem Sawfly, Wireworms, Orange Wheat Blossom Midge, Flea beetles, Diamondback Moth, etc.), and weeds (Spotted Knap Weed, Salt Cedar, Purple Loosestrife, and Houndstongue). Photos of biocontrol agents, pest damage symptoms and weed species, as well as release schedules will be collected and developed into an instruction manual: Implementation of Biological Control of Major Insect Pests and Weeds in Northern Plains. Objective 2 Instruction: For four months (about 160 hours), 20 ag professionals will be instructed about biocontrol of pests using materials developed in Objective 1. Objective 3 Training Workshop and Evaluation: The Principle Investigator, agricultural professionals and major participants will host a field day for growers and the general public. Two months after the field day, the agricultural professionals will meet to provide feedback on the effectiveness of the project and to evaluate long-term gains in their knowledge of biological control methods.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Objective 1: Course Development.


    The first objective is the development of teaching materials for biocontrol in the Northern Plains. Course materials will be assembled from past and current research at Western Triangle Ag Research Center and published information from across the Northern Plains region. Study crops, pests and biocontrol agents will be evaluated and their impacts will be documented for later inclusion in the educational materials. All educational materials will be incorporated in to a bound training manual and a web based digital archive for ag professionals.



      • Main activities: Photograph biocontrol agents, pest damage, and related material for inclusion in the training manual (October 2015 to September 2016)


      • Pest survey and evaluation of biocontrol agents vs. insects pests and weeds (April 2016 to June 2016)


      • Development of rearing techniques and data collection (May to September 2016)


      • Incorporate the use of biocontrol agents in integrated control program (January to June 2017)


      • Print training manual (October 2016 to March 2017)



    Objective 2: Instruction


    The second objective is the training of ag professionals in the benefits and methods of use of biocontrol agents for control of major insects and weeds in the Northern Plains. This training is to take the form of classroom learning and hands on field trials using actual biocontrol organisms. The knowledge gained in these workshops will directly translate into training programs for producers via the trained ag professionals.



      • Main activities: Classroom instruction (January to March 2017)


      • Field instruction (January to March 2017)


      • Development of on-site training programs (January to June 2017)



    Objective 3: Evaluation:


    The final objective is the evaluation of the effectiveness of this biocontrol training program. The adoption of new and old biological control practices will be readily apparent in farming practices throughout the region. The Western Triangle Ag Research Center will also be able to guage impact through direct contact with growers and through online availability of biocontrol information on their web page (web based digital archive). The impact of this research will be further evaluated through farm surveys conducted before and after the course. Ag professional participants will be evaluated compared to ag professionals that have not taken the course for course effectiveness.



      • Main activities: Field day (July 2017)


      • Follow-up farm survey (August 2017)


      • Follow-up review of agriculture professionals (September 2017)


    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.