Feb 20, 2021MSU to study effectiveness, cost of blueberry pest management strategies
A team of researchers from Michigan State University has received a $325,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture to examine the effectiveness and cost of new blueberry pest management approaches.
The project is led by Rufus Isaacs, a professor in the Department of Entomology, and also includes Marisol Quintanilla, an assistant professor in the Department of Entomology; Matthew Gammans, an assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics; and MSU Extension educator Carlos Garcia-Salazar.
Over the past several years, Isaacs said researchers have gained a better understanding of how to control primary insect pests affecting blueberry farms, including gall wasp and spotted wing drosophila.
These new techniques involve host-plant resistance, biological control, regular field sampling and more targeted pesticide applications, each aimed at helping growers save money and improve environmental and worker safety while effectively mitigating pest damage.
“We are evaluating integrated pest management (IPM) programs and comparing the return on investment,” Isaacs said. “We expect that scouting and degree-day models will give us more information on how to target management to areas of need and inform on the best timing for crop protection.”
Commercial blueberry farms will partner with the team to host the research, giving them a chance to see on-farm results from the work.
Researchers will also assess other pest controls such as mulching and pruning, which have been shown in small-scale trials to reduce the amount of pest infestation. Isaacs said the methods will be examined in larger field-scale trials, where benefits may be even larger.