Friday, February 22, 2013

Controlling Pests on the Farm

Modern seed genetics help stave off insect problems in crops. Farmers also use Integrated Pest Management techniques which involve inspecting crops and monitoring crops for damage, and using mechanical trapping devices, natural predators (e.g., insects that eat other insects), insect growth regulators, mating disruption substances (pheromones), and if necessary, chemical pesticides. The use of biological pesticides is an important component of IPM. In technical terms, Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is the coordinated use of pest and environmental information with available pest control methods to prevent unacceptable levels of pest damage by the most economical means and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment.

Technology has also assisted in controlling weeds in crops also. Several years ago Round-Up Ready Soybeans and then Round-Up Ready Corn were introduced to the market. This allowed farmers to plant the seed and then come in later with Round-Up and kills all vegetation except the desired crop. This transformed how we controlled weeds in our crops for several years. But just like human viruses have developed resistance to some antibiotics we began to see weeds that developed a resistance to the herbicide active ingredient in Round-Up, glyphosate. If you see a field heavily invested with a weed you have probably found a resistant weed like marestail (horseweed), giant ragweed or pigweed.

Farmers now must return to multiple modes of action to control these resistant weeds, including pre and post emergent herbicides and tillage.

When applying pesticides farmers also have the precision technology to apply directly where needed and are also required to be certified before doing so. Remember, farm products cost the farmer money and they do not want any more resistant weeds, so they are used in as small amounts as possible. A farmer will spend almost $50 per acre for pesticides and $110 per acre for today’s modern seed.

For more information, visit the Darke County OSU Extension web site at, the OSU Extension Darke County Facebook page or contact Sam Custer, at 937.548.5215.

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