The James Hutton Institute (JHI), ENDURE’s Scottish partner, has launched online Integrated Pest Management (IPM) toolboxes for three of the country’s most important crops. The crop-specific toolboxes are accessible via the Institute’s IPM portal, which examines a series of IPM topics, such as biocontrol, landscape management and pest and pathogen detection and monitoring.
Introducing the IPM toolbox, JHI says: “IPM strategies combine available methods (IPM tools) for monitoring, predicting risk and control of pest, pathogen and weed populations into programmes (IPM toolboxes) where the tools operate synergistically to reduce environmental impact and economic risk.
“At The James Hutton Institute our vision is to be at the forefront of innovative and transformative science for sustainable management of land, crop and natural resources that supports thriving communities. IPM is an essential component of this vision. We carry out research in multiple areas both to generate and improve specific IPM tools, and to combine together components of sustainable integrated pest management to create toolboxes of flexible solutions, that when deployed together, are more effective.”
The topics covered via the portal are:
• Alternative crop protectants and biopesticides
• Landscape management and ecological engineering
• Pest and disease resistance
• Pest and pathogen detection and monitoring
• Rotations and crop diversity
• Weed Management
• IPM toolboxes
The crop-specific toolboxes cover three of Scotland’s most important crops: potato, cereals and soft fruit. For soft fruit, for example, a crop with a market value of up to £80 million per year according to Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture, the site examines the institute’s breeding of aphid-resistant varieties but notes that resistance to the main virus vector is now breaking down, requiring the introduction of new IPM tools.
These tools include, for example, alternative control methods such as the trap JHI has developed with Sentomol for raspberry beetles, biocontrol options such as the combination of several parasitoid wasps, tested with Koppest and successful against two aphid pest species, and the use of flowering buckwheat to attract and retain key predators (hoverflies) in polytunnels.
The site notes: “Overall, the Hutton Soft Fruit IPM toolbox has reduced pesticide reliance by > 40% for key pests: aphids, raspberry beetle...New pests like spotted wing Drosophila threaten existing IPM systems, so the toolbox must continuously adapt to changing threats, climate and agronomy.”
ENDURE Executive Committee member Nick Birch, who has been developing the soft fruit tools with producers, explained: “We work closely with soft fruit growers, individually and in cooperatives, testing new IPM ideas for reducing pesticide reliance on protected raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and blackcurrants. This is achieved through regular grower meetings at the institute and on farm, often also involving IPM companies who are interested in testing new products including biocontrol agents and biopesticides.
“This ‘co-innovation’ approach comes directly from EU projects such as PURE, to ensure research is translated into practical solutions in the minimum time, given the urgencies of ongoing pesticide withdrawals, new invasive pests, multiple pesticide resistance and uncertainties of Brexit.”
Similar to soft fruit, the section dedicated to IPM in potato, a crop which according to Scottish government statistics occupied 27,500 hectares across 2,600 farms in 2016, examines the breeding of resistant cultivars, the identification of host resistance and effectors, predictive diagnostics, population monitoring and modelling (an updated version of the UK national forecasting system for late blight called the ‘Hutton Criteria’ was recently released), and alternative control methods.
Cereal production is important to Scotland, too, with the country accounting for 12% of the United Kingdom’s cereal area, according to NFU Scotland. The IPM toolbox for cereals includes the use of resistant varieties, crop deployment (mixes of varieties and species in different proportions and complexity), the use of resistance elicitors, and rotation and tillage.