Spatially Based Whole-Farm Integrated Crop Management (ICM) Systems for Northeast Highbush Blueberry Production

2010 Annual Report for LNE08-273

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2008: $180,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2012
Region: Northeast
State: New Jersey
Project Leader:

Spatially Based Whole-Farm Integrated Crop Management (ICM) Systems for Northeast Highbush Blueberry Production

Summary

In early spring 2010, the project leaders met and trained eight New Jersey blueberry growers on the use of Geographic Information System (GIS)-based Integrated Crop Management (ICM) whole-farm pest management programs and reduce-risk practices. These eight growers have already adopted these GIS-based programs in their farms.

During the field season, experiments were conducted to determine the within-farm distribution of key pests including blueberry maggot, sharp-nosed leafhoppers, and oriental beetle. Blueberry maggot fly numbers within farms were significantly higher in fields close to the forest than in interior fields, whereas sharp-nosed leafhopper and oriental beetle populations were randomly distributed. Our spatial analyses identified two potential sources for blueberry maggot infestation in New Jersey blueberry farms: first, high blueberry maggot fly numbers were found in traps close to the forest, indicating immigration of flies from wooded areas; second, high numbers were also found near Elliott fields (late variety), indicating an internal source of maggot infestations. A mark-release-recapture study showed that blueberry maggot fly movement is limited (? 180 feet) once they are inside the blueberry fields. We also tested oriental beetle mating disruption in entire 5-10 acre fields in four commercial blueberry farms. Compared to control (untreated) fields, fields treated with plastic bubbles containing 0.05 g of the oriental beetle sex pheromone deployed at 20 bubbles per acre (i.e., 1 g a.i. per acre) had high percent trap shut-down (> 90%) and low captures of males in pheromone-baited sentinel traps. Pesticide applications, amount of active ingredient/acre, and pesticides cost/acre were reduced by 37%, 18%, and 56%, respectively, on the four ICM farms compared with four farms under standard grower pest management practices.

In 2010, we also delivered an outreach educational program to approx. 200 blueberry growers from New Jersey, Maryland, and Pennsylvania through grower meetings, workshops, and on-farm demonstrations.

Objectives/Performance Targets

• In New Jersey, a socio-economic survey revealed that among 26 respondents, 19 of them (73%) either used or considered using reduced-risk pesticides. This is a 13 percent increase from our 2009 survey. In Pennsylvania, a similar survey revealed that among 49 respondents, 29 (60%) either used or considered using reduced-risk pesticides in their blueberry farms. This represents a 2-fold increase from our 2009 survey.

• Eight blueberry growers in New Jersey adopted spatially-based information on pest distribution to more precisely apply insecticides. Based on this information, growers used border applications, treated only “high-risk” fields, and used timely applications based on economic thresholds. As a result, pesticide applications, amount of active ingredient/acre, and pesticide cost/acre in 2010 were reduced by 37%, 18%, and 56%, respectively, on ICM farms compared to standard farms.

• About 200 blueberry growers, IPM consultants, and extension agents from Maryland, Pennsylvania , and New Jersey attended our outreach educational programs, which included presentations at grower meetings (the Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention, Hershey, Pennsylvania, February 4, 2010; and Blueberry Open House, Hammonton, New Jersey, February, 2010), workshops (Rutgers AgroTrak software, March 2010, Rutgers Marucci Center for Blueberry and Cranberry Research and Extension Center, Chatsworth, New Jersey), and an on-farm training (Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, September 2010).

• Our professional outreach included several talks and posters at national and regional meetings and conferences attended by growers, researchers, and students. These included: (1) a poster presented at the student conference on conservation organized by the American Museum of Natural History, November 3, 2010, New York; (2) a talk at the Department of Entomology, December 3, 2010, Rutgers University, NJ; and, (3) two talks at the 58th annual meeting of the Entomological Society of America, December 12-15, 2010, San Diego, CA.

Accomplishments/Milestones

• About 100 blueberry growers from Maryland and Pennsylvania attended the blueberry session organized by the project leader at the Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention (Hershey, PA) in February 4, 2010. The project leader and co-investigators presented talks on the importance of monitoring, sampling and management strategies for blueberry insect and diseases, nutrient requirements, and weed control. A socio-economic survey was conducted at this meeting. This milestone is progressing as expected. The project leader and co-investigators are scheduled to present talks in the Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention (Hershey, PA) in February, 2011. A similar survey (final) will be conducted at this meeting.

• Approximately 60 blueberry growers mainly from New Jersey attended presentations given by the project leaders at the Blueberry Open House (Hammonton, New Jersey) in February, 2010. A socio-economic survey was also conducted at this meeting. This milestone is progressing as expected and will be continued in 2011.

• Thirty growers and extension agents working on blueberry IPM in Pennsylvania attended a field workshop at Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, in September 2010. The “Blueberry IPM” workshop provided information as well as on-farm demonstrations on pest identification, scouting and monitoring techniques, and the use of reduced-risk pesticides. The workshop was organized by personnel from Rutgers University (SARE project leaders) in cooperation with personnel from the Pennsylvania blueberry grower community and Penn State University. A similar workshop will be given in 2011, as expected.

• In 2010, the project leader and the co-investigators presented talks and posters at the student conference on conservation organized by the American Museum of Natural History, Department of Entomology at Rutgers University and the 58th annual meeting of the Entomological Society of America.

• Eight growers in New Jersey participated in a GIS-based pest management program. Two private meetings with each of these growers were held in March (before the start of the growing season) and November (after completion of the growing season) of 2010. These meeting provided growers’ inputs for future improvement of the project. We will continue to meet with these growers during the final year of the project (2011).

• Seven growers attended an annual training program on the use of Rutgers AgroTrak software, a grower friendly GIS-based crop management system, in March 2010. The training provided computer-based learning on the use of maps to record pest distribution and pesticide applications. This program allows growers to better target insecticide applications and keep pesticide records. The training program was conducted at the Rutgers Marucci Center for Blueberry and Cranberry Research and Extension center at Chatsworth, New Jersey. We will conduct a final training program in 2011 (all participating growers will be invited).

• An article (Faruque U. Zaman, Cesar Rodriguez-Saona, Dean Polk, and Peter Oudemans. 2009. Monitoring Insect Pests in Blueberries Using Spatially-based Methods) was published in 2010 in the Proceedings of the 85th Annual Cumberland-Shenandoah Fruit Workers Conference, Winchester, VA. We plan to submit/publish at least 2 manuscripts in 2011 to peer-reviewed journals.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

During the second year of this project, eight growers used spatially-based monitoring information (Integrated Crop Management –ICM- programs) and reduced-risk practices to manage blueberry pests in New Jersey. We studied the distribution of pests in blueberry farms to better target pesticide applications. Results from our spatially-based intensive monitoring programs revealed that “high-risk” areas do exist for some blueberry pests. For example, blueberry maggot fly abundance was higher in farms surrounded by forest. When blueberry maggot fly captures were plotted against different landscape variables, percent forest surrounding farms best explained blueberry maggot fly distribution. Within farms, traps placed close to forest edges captured higher numbers of blueberry maggot flies than those placed in interior fields, indicating migration of flies from outside hosts (e.g., wild blueberries and other related hosts from wooded areas). Interior fields with a late cultivar (e.g. Elliott) also tended to have high fly populations. In contrast, sharp-nosed leafhopper and oriental beetle populations were randomly distributed within farms and their distribution showed no clear forest-edge effect. Growers used our spatial information to apply pesticides only to particular fields or borders. As a result, among the four growers having an ICM and standard farms, ICM farms received on average 4.2 insecticide applications compared with 6.6 applications in the standard farms. Similarly, the ICM farms received on average 2.6 lb active ingredient(a.i.)/acre compared with 3.1 lb a.i./acre applied in the standard farms. The insecticide cost per acre was also considerably lower in ICM farms ($45.5/acre) compared with standard farms ($103.4/acre). The plastic bubbles for oriental beetle mating disruption are expected to be registered in 2011. Our data on oriental beetle mating disruption will help blueberry growers use this new reduced-risk technology in New Jersey.

Collaborators:

Bradley Majek

majek@aesop.rutgers.edu
Extension Specialist in Weed Science
Rutgers University
121 Nothville Rd.
Bridgeton, NJ 08301
Office Phone: 8564553100
Kathleen Demchak

efz@psu.edu
Senior Extension Associate
Pennsylvania State University
103 Tyson Building
University Park, PA 16802
Office Phone: 8148632303
Gary Pavlis

pavlis@njaes.rutgers.edu
Blueberry Extension Agent
Rutgers University
6260 Old Harding Highway
Mays Landing, NJ 08330
Office Phone: 6096250056
Jan Meneley

agbio@agbio-inc.com
President
AgBio Development Inc.
9915 Raleigh St.
Westminster, CO 80030
Office Phone: 3034699221
Jayson Harper

jharper@psu.edu
Professor of Agricultural Economics
Pennsylvania State University
214-A Armsby
University Park, PA 16802
Office Phone: 8148638638
Anne DeMarsay

fruitdr@umd.edu
Regional Extension Specialist
University of Maryland
2005 Largo Rd
Upper Marlboro, MD 20774
Office Phone: 3016278440
Peter Oudemans

oudemans@aesop.rutgers.edu
Blueberry/Cranberry Pathologist
Rutgers University
PE Marucci Center
125A Lake Oswego Rd
Chatsworth, NJ 08019
Office Phone: 6097261590
Agenor Mafra-Neto

info@iscatech.com
President
ISCA technologies
2060 Chicago Av.
Suite C2
Riverside, CA 92507
Office Phone: 9516865008
Dean Polk

polk@aesop.rutgers.edu
Fruit IPM agent
Rutgers University
Blueberry/Cranberry Center
125A Lake Oswego Rd.
Chatsworth, NJ 08019
Office Phone: 6097261590