- Fruits: berries (brambles)
- Crop Production: high tunnels or hoop houses
Since the introduction of the invasive spotted wing Drosophila (SWD), many berry growers have had to abandon their sustainable pest management programs to prevent larvae infestation by this pest. This has created an urgent need to develop practices to decrease dependence on insecticides in this crop. High tunnel growing systems may offer opportunities for protection from SWD while also extending the growing season for berry crops before and after peak regional production, thereby providing a competitive advantage for selling at farmers markets and other venues. The popularity of these protected structures is increasing and the technology of these tunnels, including the plastic, is being expanded. Typical plastics used in high tunnels are transparent to the entire spectrum of light, serving as a mechanism for trapping heat. New technology in plastics manipulates the type of light that can pass through, often excluding ultraviolet light to obtain higher quality fruit, to prolong pesticide activity, and to mitigate insect pest and disease damage. This project aims to use these specialty plastics to develop sustainable solutions to current pest management challenges in raspberry production. In this project, I will investigate innovative farming practices at research stations and farmer plantings through three objectives: (1) determine the effect of ultraviolet light exclusion on pest, natural enemy, and pollinator populations, (2) determine the effect of ultraviolet blocking plastics on pesticide residual activity, and (3) determine the efficacy of netting for exclusion of pests, particularly SWD. I will examine whether these approaches allow fewer pesticide applications, increase time between sprays, or alter the insect community to reduce pest damage. Decreasing pesticide use can attenuate potential resistance issues with SWD, but this also has broader implications for ecosystem health and sustainability. This research will provide berry growers with tools to improve their management of SWD and other key pests, without compromising sustainability on their farms. The long term goal is to support raspberry and other small fruit growers in the North Central region to maintain marketability in a sustainable and cost-effective way.
Project objectives from proposal:
OUTCOMES – 250 word limit
My long-term action outcomes are to decrease the amount of pesticides applied in berry systems without jeopardizing control of SWD or the grower’s profitability. My near-term goals, listed below, are primarily learning outcomes so that growers may better utilize these cultural controls, building sustainability on their farms.
- Advise growers on how the type of plastic used for high tunnels will affect pest populations.
- Recommend a type of plastic to growers for high tunnels to increase the effectiveness of pesticide applications.
- Advise growers on the use of netting, both in field and high tunnels, to manage SWD and other pests.
- Educate growers on the benefits of high tunnels, focusing on decreasing their reliance on pesticides and increasing profitability.
My audience is berry growers in the North Central region, but these results may have relevance to growers in the U.S. and abroad. I hope to educate growers that protective structures can extend their growing season, allow for innovative and sustainable pest management practices, be cost-effective, and increase their local and regional competitiveness.