- Agronomic: corn
- Pest Management: biological control, botanical pesticides, integrated pest management
The proposed research will examine the effects of novel control strategies on the European corn borer (ECB), Ostrinia nubilalis. The European corn borer is one of the most devastating pests of field corn in corn-growing regions of the United States. Losses resulting from the European corn borer damage and control costs exceed $1 billion each year (Mason et al. 1995, University of Minnesota 2002). During a 1995 outbreak, losses in Minnesota alone exceeded $285 million. A recent four-year study in Iowa indicated average losses of nearly 13 bushels per acre in both first and second generations of European corn borer, for total losses of about 25 bushels per acre. To avoid total loss of corn, insecticides are often used by farmers to control the European corn borer. The use of insecticides such as Lorsban 4E, Intrepid 2F, permethrin, lambda, and furadan have been very common. But overuse of insecticides is not economically sound and is environmentally hazardous. The need for alternatives to pesticides use is very clear. A recent report by the U.S congress, Office of Technology Assessment (U.S congress, OTA 1995) indicates that biologically based technologies such as biological control could be more widely used to solve pressing needs in pest management. Due to concerns over environmental damage from the overuse of insecticides, the rising costs of crop production, and the potential for the evolution of insecticide resistance in arthropod pests such as O. nubilalis, alternative controls in an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) framework are becoming increasingly important. My research will have 7 treatments and 35 plots. The treatments will include spinosad, an insect growth regulator from bacteria, the entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana, Trichogramma pretiosum, a type of wasps which parasitizes the eggs of Ostrinia nubilalis and foliar applied Bt spray. Possible desirable outcomes of the project will be an increased awareness of alternative and potentially useful control strategies available for O. nubilalis. This project is relevant in boosting underutilized control strategies and increasing stakeholder adoption of integrated pest management practices and thereby reducing the use of conventional insecticides.
Project objectives from proposal:
The research will involve setting up a randomized plots design at the Northwestern Branch of the Ohio Agriculture Research and Development Center (OARDC), one of the fields’ research facilities owned by Ohio State University and located in wood county, Ohio. The randomized complete plots design for this research will consist of 7 Treatments (each treatments will have five replications) and 35 plots. The treatments will be as follows:
Treatment 1: Control, no insecticidal compounds applied.
Treatment 2: Trichogramma pretiosum
Treatment 3: Spinosad
Treatment 4: Beauveria bassiana
Treatment 5: Bt Spray
Treatment 6: Beauveria bassiana and Bt Spray
Treatment 7: Trichogramma pretiosum and Spinosad
Each plot will be 40 feet length by 40 feet width and separated from the next plot by 20 feet by 20 feet buffer that will be cultivated every week to remove weedy vegetation and reduce the movement of arthropods between plots. Beck 5222 variety Corn will be planted using reduced tillage practices and standard fertilization procedures. Each plot will have approximately 900 stalks. Pheromone traps obtained from Trace Corporation in California will be set to help determine the exact time when the moths would be flying around and when to start the treatments. Maize or corn will be planted during the month of May as is the common agriculture practice by producers in the Northwestern Ohio area. Preemergence herbicide and postemergence herbicide will be used to control weed populations within plantings. Egg masses will be pinned to the undersides of maize leaves in each of the plots to correspond to the approximate flight period of the first generation, which is usually mid to late May through early June. These egg masses will be attached to the center 5 rows of each plot, 5 meters from each end of the set of maize rows, to avoid possible edge effects. The same procedure will be used to place the egg masses of the Ostrinia nubilalis in the plots to correspond to the flight of the second generation moths in late July or early August. Apart from Trichogramma pretiosum which will be applied to the plots on the same day as Ostrinia nubilalis eggs, the rest of the treatments will start 10 days after Ostrinia nubilalis eggs have been applied.
There will be one professor (Ronald Hammond) who is an extension officer specialist in pest management from Ohio State University who will be involved in this research. Hammond collaborates with most local farmers in the area, and has held a number of meetings with local farmers, which I regularly attend. Last summer Hammond held a meeting with 85 local farmers on pest management, and my research plots were used as examples of pest management. The Manager Matt Davis and his assistant of Northwestern branch of the Ohio Agriculture Research and Development center will be involved in the ploughing and harvesting of my research corn. I am also expecting that some of the farmers will be willing to participate in evaluation of the treatments of this project on their farm plots. Education and frequent meetings with participating farmers will be aggressively and intensely pursued.
The project is of immense value in the examination and evaluation of novel or underutilized, control strategies for the European corn borer. The proposal is relevant for increasing farmers’ adoption of Integrated Pest Management practices, reducing the use of conventional, broad-spectrum chemicals for Ostrinia nubilalis control and employing less environmentally harmful insecticides. By adopting less broadly toxic chemicals in pest management, control by natural enemies of European corn borer, such as Parasitoids and pathogens may be enhanced and this would in turn reduce the need for chemical controls and make row crop farming more profitable for the farmers. Results of this study will be presented to several audiences including a graduate student seminar in the Dept. of Biological Sciences Seminar Series during Fall 2007, a poster presentation in the Entomological Society of American conference and also during meetings with growers at Agricultural Research Station.
The egg masses will be checked daily for any evidence of predation by ladybird beetles or other predators such as Orius insidious. The experimental plots will be evaluated twice each week for evidence of feeding damage by Ostrinia nubilalis larvae on the maize plants. Windowpane feeding and midrib and stalk tunneling will be recorded. During early July and again in September twice each week, 50 corn plants randomly selected from each plot will be destructively sampled for Ostrinia nubilalis Infection, number of larvae per stalk, number of leaves with holes per stalk, number of tunnels per stalk, Length of tunnels per stalk and Infected cobs.
The success of this project will be measured by the levels of farmers’ involvement and the interest in adopting integrated pest Management practices in controlling the European corn borers in Northwestern Ohio.