Swede Midge (SM) infestation presents a formidable challenge to any brassica crop producer. This challenge is amplified when adhering to organic practices on a small-scale for the following reasons:
1) There are no organically approved pesticides on the market that are demonstrated to control SM population with consistent, reliable results.
2) Effective crop rotation--one of the few promising practices for SM control--cannot be implemented due to the limited amount of land under cultivation.
3) The farm relies on the continuous production of a wide variety of brassicas throughout the growing season, meaning a long-term break from these crops (SM eggs remain viable in the soil for 3 years) would result in significant financial loss.
With little data available on SM population control in this context, we propose trialing a system that focuses on the use of physical barriers in order to limit both the amount of SM larvae hatched and the spread of mature SM. The primary practices proposed are the targeted application of compost, plastic mulch, silage tarp, as well as the use of insect exclusion netting on all beds containing brassica crops.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Implement a consistent and replicable IPM strategy for reducing the Swede Midge population in our vegetable fields.
- Track Swede Midge levels throughout the field through weekly field walks and crop monitoring.
- Share findings via social media and (if results are significant) propose a presentation to the Northern Michigan Small Farms Conference and an article for Growing for Market magazine