URBANA, Ohio — Nothing is cheap when it comes to growing high-value vegetable crops, including the chemical investment for insect and disease management.
But a group of Ohio State University researchers may have found a way of effectively controlling early season pests while slashing the costs by reducing chemical use.
Researchers have developed an applicator, known as a Seed Specific In-furrow Insecticide Injector, that squirts a specific amount of chemical within a band around each seed at planting. The method is a step above the traditional continuous in-furrow application, where chemicals are applied in a continuous stream. The injector has been tested on cucurbits (pumpkins, cucumbers and zucchini) to control the striped cucumber beetle, with promising results.
"Continuous in-furrow application can be expensive depending upon the chemical. Even at low label rates, growers can be reluctant to use certain products," said Jim Jasinski, an Ohio State University Extension Educator in Integrated Pest Management and a principal researcher of the study. "We thought that there's got to be a way to apply chemicals just around the seed."
The injector is similar to a device designed by the University of Tennessee for corn and cotton production. By using the recommended low and high rates of Admire (a systemic insecticide used to control the striped cucumber beetle), Ohio State researchers found that the banding method was 93 percent to 95 percent accurate in hitting its seed target while reducing insecticide costs up to 85 percent. Seedlings sprouting from treated seeds produced up to 67 percent striped cucumber beetle mortality at the 2nd leaf stage of the plant as determined by bioassays. The results varied slightly based on which crop was grown, the row width, seed spacing, initial rate per acre, and were compared to a continuous in-furrow application and a control where no treatment was given.
"What this unit does is use the optical sensor in the seed tube to trigger a solenoid valve which precisely bands material around that seed in-furrow," said Jasinski. "It's the middle ground between no treatment at all and a continuous application of chemical in the furrow."
Jasinski will present results of the study at the Ohio Fruit and Vegetable Growers' Congress being held Jan. 19-21 at the Toledo Seagate Convention Center and Radisson Hotel in Toledo, Ohio. The annual conference, which consists of general sessions, workshops, a trade show and other related events, is geared toward individuals and businesses interested in fruit and vegetable crop production and marketing.
Other researchers involved in the project include horticulturist Robert Precheur and agricultural engineers Matt Darr, Reza Ehsani, Erdal Ozkan and Matt Sullivan.
The researchers plan to continue testing the device this growing season and may target other crop seeds in their trials.
For more information on the Ohio Fruit and Vegetable Growers Congress, log on to http://www.ohiofruit.org, http://www.ohiovegetables.org or call Susan Gaughan at (614) 246-8292, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The conference is sponsored by Ohio State University Extension, Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, Ohio Vegetable and Potato Growers Association and the Ohio Fruit Growers Society, Ohio Direct Agricultural Marketing Association and the Ohio Christmas Tree Association.