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Part 5 ----> Just the facts: A review of the biology and economics behind insecticide recommendations

Biology helps determine the profitability of crop production on your farm – Ignoring biology is expensive
None of what we have presented here is new, or groundbreaking information. However, all of what we have presented here is based on science that has been vetted and implemented over thousands of acres for more than a decade. Economic injury levels take commodity prices, labor and control costs into account. Fortunately, the biological components of an EIL are not sensitive to commodity or input prices. The insects on your farm do not eat faster or more when crop prices are high or insecticide costs are low; nor is your crop more sensitive to insect damage (remember the damage boundary). Yield loss occurs at the same level of pest population, regardless of market prices of commodities. It makes no sense to treat if there is no reasonable likelihood of damage.

Science is best when it does not sit still. New research on pest and crop biology and on new management tools may change EIL’s …

Part 4 ----> Just the facts: A review of the biology and economics behind insecticide recommendations

Costs of treating soybean aphids too earlyWhile some newer insecticides target a narrower range of insects, most insecticide applications are not specific. They will kill beneficial insects (lady beetles, parasitic wasps, etc.) as well as pests, later allowing soybean aphid populations to rebound in fields without those beneficial insects to slow them down. By using the ET, natural enemies will have a chance to suppress the aphid population and possibly prevent it from reaching economically damaging levels. After application, insecticide residues will kill insects for a short time, but insecticide activity invariably declines over time (generally, this is considered a good thing). With most insecticides registered for soybean aphid control (such as pyrethroids), soybean foliage emerging after treatment is not protected. Insecticides that are absorbed and translocated within soybean plants typically move upward only a leaf or two and eventually leave unprotected foliage, especially whe…

Part 3 ----> Just the facts: A review of the biology and economics behind insecticide recommendations

Economics of soybean aphid infestations: Math and biology matter


The lowest level of aphid infestation that has been shown to cause yield loss in soybean is several thousand aphid-days. This value, referred to as the damage boundary, is a biological relationship between the insect, crop, and environment, and is independent of crop and input costs. Below the damage boundary, no damage can be measured. Therefore, management efforts directed at treating aphid levels well below the damage boundary cannot provide a return on investment.

The economic injury level (EIL) is the point at which the yield loss from insect damage is equal to the cost of a management action, such as an insecticide application. Insecticide applications made to pest populations that have not reached this point, and are unlikely to reach it, would not provide any return. To more readily apply this yield-loss relationship to field scouting and aphid management, a value in terms of aphids per plant was calculated as the …

Part 2 ----> Just the facts: A review of the biology and economics behind soybean aphid insecticide recommendations

How can soybean aphids reduce soybean yield?The soybean aphid feeds on the phloem fluids (sometimes referred to as "sap") by inserting piercing-sucking mouthparts directly into the phloem vessels that carry products of photosynthesis from the leaves to other parts of the plant. Prior to feeding, aphids "taste" the sap to determine if the plant is a suitable host species and if the quality is acceptable. Once they settle and begin feeding, the injury from soybean aphid infestations can reduce plant growth, pod number, seed number, seed weight and seed oil concentration (2, 24). Early and prolonged aphid infestations can affect all yield components, while later infestations tend to only reduce seed size (2). In addition, soybean aphids decrease photosynthesis rates of soybean plants (11).

Direct yield loss from soybean aphid feeding does not occur when the first (or five or ten) aphids begin feeding. Today’s soybean varieties are equipped to handle minor challenges, i…

Northwest Research and Outreach Center | Crops and Soils Day | Wednesday, July 20, 2016 | Registration @ 7:45

Just the facts: A review of the biology and economics behind soybean aphid recommendations

Before soybean aphid was identified as a pest of soybean in the U.S. in 2000, insecticide applications to northern soybean crops were rare, targeting sporadic insect and mite outbreaks. Although large infestations have been relatively uncommon since the early to mid-2000’s, the soybean aphid is unquestionably still the key insect pest of soybeans in many North Central states. A tremendous amount of research and observational data has been obtained for this pest since its introduction and we have the tools and the knowledge to manage this pest effectively.

The question is where to get the best information? There is a wide array of pest management advice and information available for soybean producers. The internet is particularly rife with newsletters, social media postings, and videos that all purport to give expert advice. It’s wise to always consider the source of the information and also evaluate what it is actually based on - making a statement with absolute certainty doesn’t neces…