Plattsburgh, New York; May 2, 2023. The Northern New York Agricultural Development Program (NNYADP) has announced the development of new protocols that make the use of New York-native persistent biocontrol nematodes for crop pest management easier for farms and custom applicators. The research developed protocols for the mass-rearing and delivery of the persistent biocontrol nematodes and extended their shelf-life in a holding solution prior to field application.
“This research has expanded the use of persistent biocontrol nematodes as a nature-based method that helps reduce populations of alfalfa snout beetle, corn rootworm, and berry weevils that have the potential for costly economic damage, and reached significant milestones in making the application of persistent biocontrol nematodes more convenient for farmers and applicators,” said NNYADP Co-Chair and dairy farmer Joseph Giroux, Plattsburgh, New York.
The new protocols developed by entomologist Elson Shields and research support specialist Tony Testa include a new liquid-based formulation that requires less water and less sawdust and achieves optimal ventilation and oxygenation with heat and humidity control for the mass-rearing of the persistent biocontrol nematodes.
The rearing technique developed earlier by Shields and Testa allows the northern New York-native persistent biocontrol nematode strains to retain their genetic ability to persist in soil for multiple years.
In 2022, the researchers successfully used the new formulation to rear persistent biocontrol nematodes for application to 3,350 acres in field trials on farms in Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties in the spring and fall of 2022.
Seven farms participated in the on-farm application trial. Two commercial applicators evaluated the new field delivery and application methods.
“As a result of this Northern New York Agricultural Development Program research over time, I started my own persistent biocontrol nematode rearing lab in 2016. As a result of the field trials in 2022, I have adopted the new rearing and delivery protocols, which are more convenient, less costly, and less labor-intensive,” said Mary DeBeer of DeBeer Agri-Service, Moira, New York.
Ron DeBeer of DeBeer Seed and Spraying assisted the field applications for the NNYADP project in 2022.
“As part of the persistent biocontrol nematodes field research in 2022, we applied to some fields that had had period infestation by alfalfa snout beetle and are now in a corn rotation. The much-improved delivery method and extended holding capacity allowed us much more flexibility in applying around the local weather constraints,” said Dean Wheeler of D&D Spray Service, Mannsville, New York.
Over time, northern New York farm fields treated with the persistent biocontrol nematodes for management of alfalfa snout beetle began to show their impact on corn rootworm populations.
Subsequent research supported by the NNYADP, other funders, and farmers themselves has extended the use or trials of the persistent biocontrol nematodes to multiple crops in states nationwide.
The “Developing a Farmer/Applicator-Friendly Persistent Biocontrol Nematodes Formulation for Field Application” is posted at www.nnyagdev.org.
Funding for the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is supported by the New York State Legislature through the New York State Assembly and administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.