NNYADP/Cornell Biocontrol Nematode Success Featured in Texas A&M Video

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension has posted a video highlighting how the science of biocontrol nematode use developed in Northern New York is now helping corn growers in Texas and New Mexico. The video is posted at https://www.nnyagdev.org/index.php/nny-farm-videos.

farm equipment in field
Biocontrol nematodes are applied at sunset on a cornfield in Dalhart, Texas. Photo: Elson Shields

The 20-minute video includes Elson Shields, Ph.D., the Cornell University entomologist who applied long-term support from the farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program to pioneer the science for using a combination of naturally-occurring NY-adapted nematodes as a biocontrol for crop pest management.

The video begins by acknowledging that biocontrol nematodes have been successfully applied to protect more than 25,000 crop acres in New York. That application has been made to manage alfalfa snout beetle, the first crop pest impacted by the biocontrol nematode protocol developed, refined, and proven by Shields and Cornell research technician Antonio Testa. Their subsequent success at similarly reducing corn rootworm populations in NY field trials caught the attention of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension entomologists Patrick Porter, Ph.D., and Ed Bynum, Ph.D.

With Shields’ help, biocontrol nematodes were applied to corn fields on Gary Frost’s farm in Dalhart, TX, in 2017-2019 with excellent establishment and significantly improved corn plant root protection.

The Texas A&M “Results of Entomopathogenic Nematode Studies for Control of Corn Rootworm 2017-2019” video, produced by Porter, Bynum, and Katelyn Kesheimer of Auburn University, Alabama, can be viewed at https://www.nnyagdev.org/index.php/nny-farm-videos.

Based on the success in Texas, private consultants in New Mexico requested a trial there. In May and June 2019, biocontrol nematodes were applied to 900 long-term corn acres impacted by major corn rootworm problems on a dairy farm near Roswell, NM. That trial also tested the effectiveness of using a center pivot system for applying the biocontrol nematodes. Six hundred core samples taken in November 2019 showed excellent biocontrol nematode establishment.

Meanwhile, back in New York State in 2018-2019, Cornell Cooperative Extension Field Crops Specialist Michael E. Hunter worked with Shields to evaluate application of the U/V-sensitive biocontrol nematodes via liquid manure. The success of that research is reported on the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program website at https://www.nnyagdev.org/index.php/2019-nnyadp-projects/.

Funding for the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is supported by the New York State Legislature and administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

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