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Development and delivery of “living pest management” for organic greenhouses and local food systems

[no_toc]The Ceres Trust Organic Research Initiative Final Research Report

Principal Investigator:

Dr. Matthew J. Grieshop
Associate Professor of Organic Pest Management
Michigan State University, Dept of Entomology
578 Wilson Road 205 CIPS · E. Lansing, MI 48824
[email protected]
517-432-8034 · 517-353-5598 fax

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Key Project Findings:

  1. The addition of live waxworms to soil after entomopathogenic nematode applications does not appear a viable way to increase the residence time of nematodes. Growers should thus plan on reapply soil drenches of nematodes to maintain functional populations of these soil biological control agents.
  2. Black Soldier flies are a potential rearing host for H. bacteriophora but not the Steinernematid species of entomopathogenic nematodes. Modification of black soldier fly 5th stage larvae improves host suitability. However, wax worms remain a superior rearing host for small scale production of entomopathogenic nematodes
  3. Watering events can wash beneficial predatory mites off of plants in greenhouses, especially plants with simple leaf structures. The presence of trichomes may further help mites remain on plants after watering events. Growers should apply mites soon after watering events to provide mites with time to establish on their plants.
  4. Maintenance of barley plants adjacent to vegetable crops may increase the rate of colonization by both pests (herbivores) and natural enemies (predators and parasitoids).
  5. The predatory beetle Dalotia coriaria —a natural enemy of thrips and fungus gnats— is unlikely to be affected by the application of entomopathogenic nematodes. Nematodes appeared to have more of an impact on immature beetles than adults. Growers should be able to use both biological control approaches without fear of nematodes impacting the predator.
  6. The predatory beetle Dalotia coriaria can be reared on potting mix or on compost. Weekly additions of chicken feed (7g/l/week) greatly improve population development. Rearing containers should be as uncovered as possible but need to be kept moist. Movable containers of D. coriaria could be used to inoculate multiple greenhouses/hoophouses by rotating them on a two week cycle.

Project Summary

The two goals of our project were to: provide organic greenhouse growers with improved biocontrol tactics and to adapt greenhouse open rearing tactics for use on small scale urban and rural organic farms. We approached our goals through four project objectives: development of on-site augmentative entomopathogenic nematode production, determination of the impact of irrigation and plant architecture on breeder pile systems, adaptation of EPNs, breeder pile, and banker plant systems for small scale farms, and the development of extension materials. The development of integrated insect biological control systems is expected to facilitate new and existing organic production and improve the profitability and sustainability of large organic greenhouses, smaller 3-4 season hoophouses, and outdoor organic vegetable production.

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