Soil health and profitability implications of including brown mustard and its products in an integrated wireworm management system

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2021: $349,919.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2024
Host Institution Award ID: G316-21-W8612
Grant Recipient: University of Idaho
Region: Western
State: Idaho
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Kurtis Schroeder
University of Idaho


  • Agronomic: barley, mustard, wheat


  • Crop Production: cover crops, crop rotation, fallow
  • Education and Training: decision support system, extension, farmer to farmer, mentoring, networking, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research, workshop
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity
  • Pest Management: biofumigation, cultural control, economic threshold, integrated pest management, prevention
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems
  • Soil Management: green manures, soil analysis, soil microbiology, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: quality of life, sustainability measures

    Proposal abstract:

    Wireworms, the larval stage of click beetles (Coleoptera: Elateridae), are a major pest of many crops in the Pacific Northwest and Intermountain regions of the USA. In cereals, the foundational crops of the region, prophylactic neonicotinoid seed treatments are presently the only available insecticides to control this pest. Neonicotinoids, however, do not reduce wireworm populations and often fail to protect the crop. Our producers are in dire need for effective alternative management options that fit their regional agricultural practices and that contribute to soil health and sustainability of our agricultural production systems. Moreover, the lack of data on economic losses to wireworms limits agricultural extension expert ability to develop recommendations regarding economic injury levels and action thresholds for this pest in cereals. To address these shortfalls, through a series of on-farm trials and follow-on evaluations, we propose to: i evaluate the effectiveness of brown mustard rotation, and a newly developed concentrated brown mustard seed meal extract, in reducing wireworm damage, ii examine impacts of adoption of these treatments on several soil health parameters, iii develop an early detection method for predicting and estimating economic loss to wireworms, and iv develop extension educational materials for wireworm damage detection, management, and farm profitability implications associated with adoption of these wireworm management strategies. Objectives 1 and 2, as well as the yield aspects of profitability calculations, will be achieved through setting up 24 on-farm research plots (10 × 20-ft) in each of the 6 fields in northern Idaho, southeastern Idaho, and eastern Washington. Farm-scale aerial imaging combined with high resolution wireworm count and yield data will be used to determine the relationship between yield and wireworm pressure at a field scale. This project will result in development of decision-making guidelines and ecologically based pest management tactics that can be cost-effective, and are environmentally benign, sustainable, and most importantly, applicable to cropping systems across the PNW and elsewhere. Findings from this study are of great interest to cereal producers in the PNW and Intermountain West regions. In addition to Idaho and Washington, our findings will be communicated to producers in Oregon and Utah and Montana, with support from Extension specialists in each of those states (see letters of support).

    Project objectives from proposal:


    Objective 1. Examine brown mustard, its seed meal and a newly developed concentrated extract in reducing wireworm damage to spring wheat. (Research)

    Objective 2. Evaluate the impact of brown mustard manure and its products on soil health parameters, (Research)

    Sub-objective 1: Quantify the impact of the green manure, seed meal, and concentrated seed meal extract on soil microbial community abundance and structure.

    Sub-objective 2: Determine the potential impact of the green manure and seed meal applications on local entomopathogenic nematodes.

    Objective 3. Determine yield effects due to wireworms at the field scale and estimate farm profitability implications of wireworm damage and adoption of the wireworm management strategies in Obj. 1. (Research)

    Objective 4. Disseminate findings to stakeholders and promote adoption of successful IPM tactics in affected fields across the region. (Education/Extension)

    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.