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Reduced-risk management strategy for foliar insect pests of Prairie field crops

For inquiries regarding this strategy, please contact:
Pest Management Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
aafc.pmcinfo-clainfo.aac@canada.ca

August 2016

Preface

Pesticide risk reduction strategies are developed under Pesticide Risk Reduction (PRR) of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's (AAFC) Pest Management Centre. To reduce undesirable impact of the use of pesticides in agriculture, PRR works with grower groups, industry, provinces, researchers and regulators to identify gaps in pest management and opportunities to develop and implement strategies to address these.

A pesticide risk reduction strategy is a detailed plan that aims to address grower needs for reduced-risk management tools and practices for specific pest issues. The strategies are developed through extensive consultations with stakeholders. The strategy document presented here summarizes the framework and activities supported by PRR. It is intended to provide an update on the progress in developing and implementing the strategy and new tools and practices made available through this process.

For more information, please visit the Pest Management Centre.

Acknowledgement

Pesticide Risk Reduction acknowledges the contribution of participating organizations and stakeholders, including the current and former members of the Foliar Insect Pests of Prairie Field Crops Working Group:

Executive Summary

Many insect species causing above-ground feeding damage to plants can be serious pests that affect yield and quality of economically important field crops across Canada. Following systematic assessments, priority pests with the greatest potential for pesticide risk reduction were identified by stakeholders. Control of these pests relies mainly on the application of older, broad-spectrum insecticides, some of which are undergoing regulatory review by Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA). Thus, safer solutions are needed to control these pests.

This report summarizes the support from Pesticide Risk Reduction towards developing reduced-risk alternatives to manage foliar insect pests of field crops, with a focus on the prairie region. Some of the outcomes resulting from this work may be applicable to other regions of Canada where similar crops are grown.

A strategy to address these pests has been developed in collaboration with provincial crop specialists, research scientists, and industry stakeholders. The most pressing crop/pest issues were selected, solutions were discussed and prioritized, and an action plan was put into place. Selection of solutions was driven by the goal to achieve viable pest management while reducing risks associated with the use of insecticides, including pest resistance to these products.

To date, PRR has funded 13 projects addressing cereals, canola and alfalfa to implement this strategy. The pest species targeted for the above crops are aphids, cereal leaf beetle, Lygus bugs, cabbage seedpod weevil, and alfalfa weevil. Tools generated for growers so far include:

Grasshoppers, an important pest of field crops, were not included here as these have been addressed previously through the Reduced-Risk Strategy for Grasshopper Management.

More details about the projects and solutions resulting from this strategy are provided in the below tables. Adoption of the new tools will enable growers to enhance their integrated pest management practices and reinforce judicious use of chemical insecticides.

Pest management and pesticide risk reduction issues

Foliar pests include numerous insect species which affect field crops in Canada. This strategy work focuses on the three Prairie Provinces because of the predominantly large acreage of field crops grown in this region. Out of a total of over 21 million hectares of field crops grown in Canada annually, 93% of cereals and 98% of canola are grown in the Prairie Provinces.

Significant amounts of pesticides are sprayed over large crop areas to protect crop quality and yields from foliar pests, especially during outbreaks. Most insecticides available are older chemistries that belong to two main groups, organophosphates and pyrethroids. Several of the products are being re-evaluated in light of new science and some of the registered uses may be eventually phased out. Moreover, repetitive use of a few insecticides with similar modes of action is a risk factor in the development of insect resistance to these products.

Therefore, a need was identified to diversify the tool box with alternative control options suitable for integrated pest management systems. This strategy is working to develop reduced risk solutions and decision support tools to facilitate sustainable management of priority pests.

Strategy development

Some gaps were previously identified for this group of pests through preliminary stakeholder consultations in 2003 and 2005. In response, PRR supported several projects addressing these gaps, while emphasizing the need for broader stakeholder engagement and a more concerted approach across the prairie region.

Working group consultations

In fall 2011, a working group was established to help PRR develop a plan of action to address these pest issues. The group brought together subject matter experts and stakeholders, including grower organizations, university researchers, and scientists, as well as provincial extension and pest management specialists.

Priority issues and gaps

Through multiple rounds of consultations over five years, the working group has progressively identified several gaps in pest management and associated reduced risk solutions for high priority foliar pests. These pests had been treated regularly with older insecticides and the need for alternative control options in the toolbox was critical. Top crop/pest needs identified to-date:

Cereals

Canola

Forages

Other (overarching areas)

Action Plan

An action plan targeting the following goals was put in place to address the various issues listed above in a deliberate, sequential approach:

The below tables outline the goals of the strategy along with the solutions recommended by the working group members and the actions taken by PRR to implement them.

Progress to implement a reduced-risk strategy for foliar insect pest management in prairie field crops (August 2016)

Goal #1: Develop biological pest control options
Milestone
Recommended solutions
(Crop/pest code)*
Status Results from projects undertaken by PRR** Completion Date
Evaluate the potential for cabbage seedpod weevil biocontrol in canola (2b) Completed PRR03-370 Assessing potential non-target risks of biological control agents used in IPM against cabbage seedpod weevil. Due to concerns with the breadth of host range revealed by host plant-weevil-parasitoid associations, no steps were taken to release any of the tested biocontrol agents. New non-target host test lists were developed for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). 2003-2007
Support regulatory submission for XenTari for diamondback moth control in canola Completed BPR12-030 Evaluation of XenTari for the management of diamondback moth in canola. Efficacy data generated was used by registrant (Valent Biosciences) to complete the registration package for XenTari WG Biological Insecticide (Bacillus thuringiensis ssp. aizawai) submitted to PMRA. XenTari was registered for use for diamondback moth control in canola in November 2014. 2012-2013
Relocate cereal leaf beetle parasitoid Tetrastichus julis into new areas of cereal crops (1b) Completed PRR13-020 Expanding distribution of existing parasitoid to new areas for bio-control of cereal leaf beetle in small grain cereals in the Canadian prairies. From 2013 to 2015, about 14,000 Tetrastichus julis wasps were relocated and released in various wheat fields of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba where the pest had become prevalent, but the parasitoid was not recorded or parasitism was at insufficient levels. Also, a landscape ecology study indicated that abundance of cereal leaf beetle decreased in cereal fields surrounded by landscapes that had a high proportion of non-cropped habitat. 2013-2016
Status legend:
  • Completed: Activity is complete
  • In-progrss: Activity addressing milestone is underway
  • Future: Areas recommended for future work or promotion

* Crop/pest code corresponds to the number of issues listed under 'Priority issues and gaps'

** Hyperlinked codes: Project synopses and results summaries available on Pest Management Centre website

Goal #2: Improve pest management decision making
Milestone
Recommended solutions
(Crop/pest code)*
Status Results from projects undertaken by the Program** Completion Date
Establish a coordinated prairie-wide insect pest monitoring network to inform growers on pest risks (4b) Completed PRR07-060 Development of reduced-risk strategies through coordinated monitoring, forecasting and risk warning systems for insect pests of field crops in Canada. A monitoring network was established for seven pest species across three prairie provinces and data were translated into interpretive risk maps indicting near real time distribution and density of each target pest. Collection of data and delivery of this service to growers continues through the Prairie Pest Monitoring Network. 2007-2010
Update economic threshold for Lygus bug in canola (2a) Completed PRR12-030 Refine and validate economic threshold for Lygus bugs in canola production in Alberta. Project provided preliminary recommendations against spraying irrigated canola fields for Lygus control at pod stage. Work to further refine these recommendations continues under other sources of funding. 2012-2014
Develop a dynamic action threshold for cereal aphids that takes into account natural enemies of aphids present in the crop (1a) Completed PRR12-040 Develop and validate a dynamic action threshold (DAT) tool for aphid management in cereal crops in the Prairies. A new DAT prototype was developed to predict growth of cereal aphid populations accounting for changing numbers of aphids and their natural enemies. The model needs further refinements and field validation before recommending to growers as a tool for making informed spray decisions. 2012-2014
Develop a dynamic action threshold for cereal aphids that takes into account natural enemies of aphids present in the crop (1a) In-progress PRR15-040 Refining and making accessible to growers a validated dynamic action threshold (DAT) for cereal aphid control in cereal crops. Project aims to develop an online application for growers to access an operational and field validated DAT developed earlier in project PRR12-040. The DAT is expected to recommend a pesticide spray when the populations of predators and parasitoids of cereal aphids are insufficient to prevent the pest from reaching the economic threshold. 2015-2018
Make available prediction tool for alfalfa weevil in prairie regions (3a) Completed PRR13-010 Improve decision-making for monitoring and management of alfalfa weevil in alfalfa crops on the prairies. The project validated degree-day models which best determined the stage of alfalfa weevil development. The prediction tool has been made available to growers since 2015 through the Prairie Pest Monitoring Network. The project also revealed that the parasitoid wasp Bathyplectes curculionis, a natural enemy of alfalfa weevil, is well established across Saskatchewan and is present in Manitoba. 2013-2015
Develop field guide to identify harmful and beneficial insects of field crops in the Prairie (4a) Completed PRR13-040 Production of a field guide on pest and beneficial insects and mites of field crops in western Canada. Project developed an illustrated 150 page publication titled Field crop and forage pests and their natural enemies in Western Canada available in English and French. Both print and electronic (USB card and on-line) formats of the guide were widely distributed and promoted to stakeholders. 2013-2015
Develop economic thresholds for cereal leaf beetle (1b) In-progress PRR16-020 Development and validation of a dynamic action threshold for cereal leaf beetle in the Canadian prairie. This project aims to develop and field validate an action threshold that incorporates elements of the density and voracity of important natural enemies of the cereal leaf beetle present in wheat crops. The goal is for growers to use this tool to make informed spray decisions in the field. 2016-2019
Develop economic thresholds for diamondback moth in canola (2c) Future Not applicable Not applicable
Status legend:
  • Completed: Activity is complete
  • In-progrss: Activity addressing milestone is underway
  • Future: Areas recommended for future work or promotion

* Crop/pest code corresponds to the number of issues listed under 'Priority issues and gaps'

** Hyperlinked codes: Project synopses and results summaries available on Pest Management Centre website

Goal #3: IPM technology development and transfer
Milestone
Recommended solutions
(Crop/pest code)*
Status Results from projects undertaken by the Program** Completion Date
Promote IPM adoption and pesticide risk reduction strategies in cereals Completed PRR06-870 Accelerating the adoption of Integrated Pest Management and risk management strategies in wheat and other cereals. Project determined existing adoption levels of selected IPM systems in cereals and encouraged further uptake of best management practices through on-farm demonstrations and educational activities. 2006-2009
Develop integrated control approaches for cabbage seedpod weevil (2b) Future Not applicable Not applicable
Develop IPM educational tool for wheat midge (1c) Future Not applicable Not applicable
Status legend:
  • Completed: Activity is complete
  • In-progrss: Activity addressing milestone is underway
  • Future: Areas recommended for future work or promotion

* Crop/pest code corresponds to the number of issues listed under 'Priority issues and gaps'

** Hyperlinked codes: Project synopses and results summaries available on Pest Management Centre website

Strategy outcomes

Major outcomes from the implementation of this strategy to date include:

It is anticipated that by making these new tools and approaches available and educating growers in their use, more sustainable crop protection practices will be adopted, whereby growers reduce their reliance on chemical insecticides and practice better resistance management.

This report will be updated periodically as new projects are completed and new information becomes available.

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