Pulse Beat

Precise Pest Identification

ONE OF MPSG’s objectives is to research and extend ways to reduce the costs of pest control. Of course, the cost/ benefit of crop protection chemicals in particular is a popular subject among farmers; much of the up-front cost of conventional pest management appears in the invoices for these products. However, research also needs to address potential non-invoice costs that could be incurred in the event pest control practices fail to mesh with the requirements of trade, regulation, social license and customer satisfaction.

MPSG believes it is in the farmers’ best interest to continually scrutinize pest control methods. With Canada’s endowment of effective crop protection products, product stewardship is something the entire supply chain takes seriously. Unwarranted use of products has invoice and non-invoice implications for farmers. Skipping a warranted application can have much the same result. Weaknesses in conventional pulse and soybean pest control programs leaves farmers vulnerable. Sometimes farmers really don’t know if a pest is present and, if it is confirmed, the number of weed, insect or disease organisms necessary to cause economic harm is not known. Even then, confirming the presence of a pest species isn’t enough when the seriousness of the pest varies by sub-species or race. It would improve stewardship if farmers could confidently avoid “insurance” applications and be more discriminating when purchasing bundled products.

The challenge is complex. However, having decided to wade in on behalf of farmers, MPSG continues to sponsor studies that seek to definitively characterize the presence and threat level of crop pests. The following articles from Dr. Bryan Cassone and Dr. Debra McLaren represent a sample of current projects.