Thursday September 26th was the Planting for Beneficial Habitat Twilight meeting. Attendees learned how habitat for pollinators and other beneficial insects show good stewardship of the land. Dr. Dunn explained several methods of establishment, the benefits of hosting pollinators and other beneficial insects, and their impact as biological control.
Dr. Amara Dunn speaks with Cooperative Extension visitors.
Evergreen plantings on the NYSIPM plot, Cornell Agritech Fruit and Vegetable Research Farm
Does adding beneficial habitat reduce pest pressure on Christmas tree plots? We hope to find out.
Despite stormy skies, the Twilight Event was a success
Brian Eshenaur and Amara Dunn address attendees of the Twilight Meeting
Keuka College students in Dr. Bill Brown’s Animal Diversity class compare pairs of insect samples. Dr. Betsy Lamb invited them to hypothesize differences in collected insects at varying locations within the plots, and at different times of the year.
Thank you to all who helped make these teaching events possible!
September 6, 2019
by Debra E. Marvin Comments Off on Weeding Now Reduces Weeds Later
Dr. Bryan Brown examines a single WATERHEMP plant capable of producing thousands of seeds.
Summer annual weeds start flowering in early August, so it’s important to control them beforehand to prevent seed production. This is true for commercial growers and for homeowners. One of the most prolific is waterhemp, a bane to growers because it’s also resistant to herbicides. According to our INTEGRATED WEED MANAGEMENT SPECIALIST, DR. BRYAN BROWN, waterhemp is likely resistant to herbicide Groups 2, 5, and 9 in NY.
That’s why Bryan is collaborating with growers and researchers around the state to investigate other controls, including cultivation, cover cropping, and even a device that zaps weeds with electricity. Funding for this work was provided by the Farm Viability Institute.
“Here we’re removing waterhemp that survived some of our herbicide treatments in soybeans. Because this trial is done in a grower’s field and we don’t want it to spread, we’re removing it before it sets seed (up to 500,000).”
While other pigweed species have short hairs on their stems, waterhemp and Palmer amaranth have smooth stems. The best way to distinguish waterhemp and Palmer amaranth is to rip off one of the lower leaves. Another characteristic of waterhemp and Palmer amaranth is separate male (pollen producing) and female (seed producing) plants. Herbicide resistance traits can transfer by pollen, which has allowed these weeds to develop resistance faster.
To prevent these weeds from taking hold, growers are also recommended to start weed-free with tillage, followed by a 2-pass program of residual and post-emergence herbicides that utilizes several effective sites of action. Foliar applied herbicides should be used when these weeds are less than four inches tall. Since these weeds emerge over a broader timeframe than most weeds, mid-season residual herbicide applications should be considered, along with increased planting density or tighter row spacing to help close the canopy earlier.
Waterhemp weed showing growth pattern.
If you do find yourself with escapes of these weeds, it makes economic sense to go hand-rogue those weeds out of your fields rather than deal with 200,000 to one million seeds in your soil from each weed. If there are too many to bag up by hand, consider sacrificing that patch of your crop by mowing and tilling the area before the weeds produce seed. Avoid harvesting these areas. Combines are especially good at spreading weed seeds. If you must harvest these areas, know that combines can carry 150 pounds of plant material even you think it’s empty, so check out some of the great online videos on how to clean them out after going through weedy fields.
The weakness of waterhemp and Palmer amaranth is the short lifespan of their seeds in the soil. Of those that don’t germinate, very few will survive in the soil for more than four years. So, if you can keep it under control for four years, you won’t have much of it after that. But as one Pennsylvania grower put it, “the cheapest way to control Palmer amaranth is to never get it in the first place.” So, it’s important to make sure that your seed, feed, bedding, and equipment are clean from the start.
Dr. Bryan Brown works with growers, extension educators, industry leaders, and researchers to address knowledge gaps in weed IPM and develop programming to improve adoption of effective weed management practices. His work covers all agricultural crops throughout New York.
Thank you, NY Farm Viability Institute
July 20, 2019
by Joellen Lampman Comments Off on Revisiting wild parsnip
Wild parsnip sap can cause painful, localized burning and blistering of the skin. – New York State Department of of Environmental Conservation
Wild parsnip going to seed. The sap in this widely spreading invasive plant can cause severe burns.
A few weeks ago we discussed the invasive wild parsnip as a hidden danger for weekend weedwackers. Now it is much more obvious with its bright yellow flowers, but if you are looking to control it now, straight mowing is off the table. Some of the heads are going to seed and mowing will simply distribute those seeds, ensuring a new crop of wild parsnip next year.
Whether you choose to dig out the root, cut the root an inch or two below the soil, or mow, first cut the seed head off with clippers and put it in a plastic bag. The bag can then be left in the sun to rot the seeds before disposal. And don’t forget to wear protective clothing to prevent any sap from reaching exposed skin or eyes.
Use a boot brush to clean mud and seeds off your boots. Remember to check the tread!
This is also the time of year when seeds of this and other invasive species can be accidentally transported by hikers and dog walkers. Avoid brushing against plants. Check shoes, clothing, and gear after leaving an area. Remove any seeds that are found and seal them in a plastic bag. (This can double as a tick check!)
For more information on preventing the spread of invasive species while hiking, biking, camping, and, well, any outdoor play, a great resource is PlayCleanGo. And consider taking their pledge to Stop Invasive Species in Your Tracks.
Let’s stay safe out there!
May 7, 2019
by Debra E. Marvin Comments Off on NEWA Announces Partnership with Onset Corporation
Combining HOBO RX3000 weather stations with NEWA’s decision support tools will give farmers access to microclimate monitoring data and real-time crop management decision support, allowing for faster, well-informed farm management decisions. Growers simply select the NEWA data feed after logging onto the HOBOlink® cloud platform and then contact the NEWA Help Desk to complete the onboarding process to http://newa.cornell.edu.
5% NEWA discount on weather station equipment purchases.
NEWA tool and resource compatibility.
Reliable weather monitoring with low-cost data plans.
Hobolink® alarm notifications via text.
Hobolink® 24/7 data access.
Wide area farm coverage with HOBOnet add-on mesh network sensors (optional).
Onset is ready to answer your questions about HOBO RX3000 station configurations suitable for use with the NEWA platform. Visit the Onset NEWA partner page to learn more, or contact designated Onset support staff below with your questions regarding equipment and purchases.
Jamie Pearce, Onset’s VP of Marketing and Corporate Development says, “We’re very excited to be integrating our HOBO RX3000 weather station data with NEWA. Not only does it help our agricultural customer base gain actionable insights, but it also delivers the option to leverage our new wireless sensors with the HOBOnet® Field Monitoring System. Now, apple growers to vineyard managers can get a better sense of what’s happening throughout their fields.”
More About Onset
Based on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Onset has been designing and manufacturing its data loggers and monitoring solutions since the company’s founding in 1981. The company’s award-winning HOBO® data logger and weather station products are used around the world in a broad range of monitoring applications, from water and coastal research to indoor and outdoor environmental monitoring. https://www.onsetcomp.com.
Girl scouts troop 40001 in Trumansburg, NY is working on their Bronze Award, which involves planning and establishing a pollinator-friendly community garden for raising awareness about the importance of pollinators in agriculture, our landscape, and community. The girls have spent nearly 20 hours preparing for their garden, including researching the best flowers to grow, planning the layout of the garden, learning about the more than 500 species of pollinators in NY, planting seeds of many perennial flowers that benefit pollinators, and writing letters to community leaders requesting a site for the garden to raise awareness in the community.
On Earth Day, Dr. Betsy Lamb of the NYS Integrated Pest Management Program was invited to share her horticultural expertise and passion for pollinators with the girl scouts. Dr. Lamb shared examples of the many bees, flies, butterflies, moths, bats and hummingbirds who pollinate our native, ornamental and agricultural crops in NY. The girls learned how bees see in the ultraviolet spectrum and that many flowers are specifically designed with their particular pollinators in mind to maximize reproduction. Dr. Lamb provided many samples of fresh flowers for the girls to dissect and to learn about flower anatomy and biology as it pertains to the various methods of pollination, which was a big hit with the girls! She also gave some tips on garden establishment to ensure success.
The girls shared their plans for the garden with Dr. Lamb, who was impressed by the knowledge of the girls and the wide range of beneficial blooms they had selected to plant. The garden will include 13 different types of flowers, selected with different bloom types and flowering times to feed and support pollinators from spring to fall, along with an informational sign on the benefits of pollinators and beneficial insects to our community. The garden will be established this summer for the Trumansburg community to enjoy for years to come. This sort of hands-on learning, fostered by Dr. Lamb, will not soon be forgotten by these girl scouts!
Post provided by Jaime Cummings NYSIPM Field Crops and Livestock IPM Coordinator and Girl Scout Leader.
Many of us love gardening. But not many of us enjoy weeding. Robots to the rescue!
Franklin Robotics has built a robot to control weeds and they sent us one of their prototypes for initial testing before it hits the market. Their robot, Tertill, moves around the garden with a string-trimmer (a.k.a. weedwacker) that cuts up small weeds while its sensor allows it to move around your larger, planted flowers or vegetables. Its wheels are also designed to dislodge small weeds.
While this robot is designed for small gardens, larger robots are also being developed for farms. As farmers face labor shortages and herbicide-resistant weeds, robotic weeders could help alleviate these challenges. Several companies are taking very different approaches in their designs. One model undercuts weed roots, another punches small weeds into the ground, and a third places a drop of herbicide on the weed’s growing point.
Most of these robots are still in the development stage. In testing out the Tertill, we see that it has great potential, but as you can see in the video, there are some weeds that it misses. We’ll suggest that the designers raise the crop sensors while lowering the weed trimmer so that it controls a wider range of weeds. Hopefully after these tweaks it will be ready for prime time!
Involved in this project are:
Bryan Brown, Integrated Weed Management Specialist, NYSIPM, Cornell University
Kristine Averill, Research Associate, Soil and Crop Sciences, Cornell University
Antonio DiTommaso, Professor and Chair, Soil and Crop Sciences, Cornell University
Scott Morris, Research Technician, Soil and Crop Sciences, Cornell University
April 16, 2019
by Debra E. Marvin Comments Off on 360° Pollinator Garden Tour
Have you ever wondered what pollinator-supporting plants you can add to your property ?
Here’s an excellent and enjoyable way to find out. Funded by one of our Community IPM Grants, Cooperative Extension of Putnam County created the perfect example. While you can certainly stop in to visit, (Cornell Cooperative Extension of Putnam County, 1 Geneva Road, Brewster NY.), here’s the next best thing. Or maybe it’s better because you can visit any time regardless of weather and distance!
Visit a real pollinator gardenwith this virtual 360 degree tour. In this curated experience, suitable for youth and adults, go on a pollinator insect hunt, or learn about the threats to native and non-native pollinators. Master Gardener Volunteers will help you make decisions about plant and landscape choices that support pollinator abundance and diversity.
This is just one of the resources we are pleased to provide to help you help pollinators.
It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one destiny, affects all indirectly. – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Ahhh, the weed. Despised by many, almost to the point of violence. Once, while waiting for my older child to get out of preschool, I sat in the lawn and blew dandelion heads to the delight of my infant. I’ve never forgotten the sudden manifestation of a red-faced man screaming at me about terrorizing the neighborhood. (I like to think my son was unaffected.)
The first step in IPM is determining if you have a problem. All those years ago, a large, angry man was a problem, but I contend to this day that the dandelions were not. An unknown author penned that weeds are people’s idea, not nature’s. And many through the years have found inspiration from weeds. While researching this post, I had the option of strictly sticking to quotes about weeds (don’t worry, I didn’t), but I will add a few. There are quotes about their survivability:
You can’t help but admire a plant that has adapted to lawn mowers.
A weed is a plant that has mastered every survival skill except for learning how to grow in rows. – Doug Larson
A fresh and vigorous weed, always renewed and renewing, it will cut its wondrous way through rubbish and rubble. – William Jay Smith
Quotes about weeding:
Plant and your spouse plants with you; weed and you weed alone. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau
And many waxed poetic about their hidden value:
What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have never been discovered. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
When life is not coming up roses, Look to the weeds and find the beauty hidden within them. – F. Young
But beyond their value as a philosophical aid, can weeds be beneficial?
In fact, what weeds you find can tell you something about the soil. Is it wet or dry? Lean or fertile? Compacted? Acidic, alkaline, or neutral? Check out the short overview from the University of Vermont, What Weeds Can Tell You. Then act accordingly.
Often, weeds we find troublesome are plants we once valued. Dandelions, garlic mustard, plantain, and burdock are examples of plants brought over and cultivated by settlers to North America for food and medicine. And there are efforts to regain that value. One doesn’t need to spend too much time on the internet to find many resources on edible weeds. Take a look at this short video, Edible Weeds | From the Ground Up, developed by the University of Wyoming Extension (which includes some precautions you should take if you want to try eating your problems away). The Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education recently funded a project looking at bringing edible weeds from the farm to the market.
These trichogramma wasp parasitized European corn borer eggs aren’t going to hatch.
There is research looking at the ecosystem services provided by weeds in agricultural settings. In their project, Integrating Insect, Resistance, and Floral Resource Management in Weed Control Decision-Making, Cornell researchers make the argument that while weeds can compete with crops, they can also benefit the entire system. They use milkweed along a field of corn as a case study. There are aphids that feed on the milkweed and produce honeydew, which benefits beneficial insects such as wasps that lay their eggs in the eggs of insect pests such as European corn borer. And that’s before they discuss the benefit to monarch butterflies.
Early flowering weeds, such as this purple deadnettle, provide an early spring food source for pollinators.
And speaking of butterflies… and bees… and other pollinators, in the write-up of a study looking at the capacity of untreated home lawns to provide pollination opportunities, they reclassified weeds as “spontaneous lawn flowers”. So much friendlier! By the way, they found 63 plant species in those lawns. In a parallel study looking at mowing and pollinators, they found that lazy lawn mowing led to more spontaneous lawn flowers leading to more pollinators. So now I have also given you an excuse to mow less. You’re welcome.
Winter weather doesn’t mean time to stop thinking about ticks. Certainly not for the Don’t Get Ticked New York team here at the NYSIPM program. Tick are active year round, and are out looking for hosts We’ve continued to provide resources and give talks around the state, and update our own resources. Visit the Don’t Get Ticked New York page.
Watch this video by Joellen Lampman and share this post!
Ticks and tick-borne diseases have become a significant public health issue in New York, with different tick species and diseases currently present and spreading within the state and region.Visit the Don’t Get Ticked New York page.
February 6, 2019
by Debra E. Marvin Comments Off on Not Too Early to Start Planning for Pollinator Habitat
Some of our beneficial insect habitat plots looked really beautiful this fall! Others are still works in progress.
Today’s post is from our Biocontrol Specialist, Amara Dunn
Have seed and plant catalogs started arriving in your mailbox, yet? This is the time of year I start thinking wistfully about the arrival of spring. If your spring daydreams include planting habitat for pollinators and other beneficial insects, keep reading for the latest on NYS IPM’s beneficial insect habitat establishment project!
Back in October I described the purpose and design of this project. So what have we learned after the first year? First, here’s a reminder of the different treatments we were comparing. Each treatment involved either direct seeding or transplanting habitat plants, in the spring or the fall, utilizing a different method for weed control.
Replace dead plants
Till, transplant, mulch
Replace dead plants
Till, direct seed
Till, plant buckwheat
Mow 1x, till, plant buckwheat
Mow 1x, transplant
E – control
Till, lay plastic
Remove plastic, direct seed
Herbicide 2x, till 1x
Till 1x, direct seed
And here’s how much time and money we spent on each method during our first year. Each treatment was applied to a total area of 460 ft2 (0.01 A).
A – Spring transplant
B – Spring transplant and mulch
C – Spring seeding
D – Buckwheat & fall seeding
E – Control
F – Solarize & fall seeding
G – Herbicide/tillage & fall seeding
What did we get for the time and money we invested? Well, the only two treatments that looked anything like habitat for beneficial insects by October were the ones we transplanted in the spring (A and B). And of the two, treatment B looked a lot better because of the mulch we spread around the plants after transplanting to help suppress weeds. Even so, we still hand weeded this treatment (and treatment A) twice during the year. But we got much better weed control in treatment B.
Four and a half months after transplanting, the beneficial habitat plants in treatments A (left) and B (right) were mostly growing well. But there was a big difference in weed control, in spite of similar amounts of time spent weeding each treatment
Direct-seeding in the spring resulted in a few blackeyed Susans by October (and a few partridge peas slightly earlier in the year), but did not look very impressive and had a lot of weeds.
After direct-seeding in the spring and mowing four times during the summer and fall, there were a few blackeyed Susans blooming in treatment C plots.
Of the three methods we used to manage weeds during the season, alternating herbicide applications and tillage resulted in the cleanest-looking plot by October.
A few weeds were present a week after the last time the herbicide/tillage treatment (G) was rototilled. We broadcast, raked, and pressed beneficial habitat seed into these plots.
Solarizing the soil was low-maintenance once the plastic was laid in the spring. We did learn that solarization is not a good strategy if you’re trying to control purselane. It grew just fine under our clear plastic, while most other weeds didn’t. In some places, it probably reduced the efficacy of solarization because it pushed the plastic away from the soil and allowed other weeds to germinate and grow.
In some solarized plots, purslane grew happily under the plastic. Purslane was not a common weed anywhere else in the field during the season.
The two crops of buckwheat we grew in treatment D not only suppressed weeds, but also attracted lots of pollinators and natural enemies to its blossoms before we mowed the crop down to keep it from going to seed.
The buckwheat established quickly and crowded out many weeds. We mowed the first crop in July and re-planted. We had to mow the second crop about 3 weeks before we transplanted (not ideal).
In summary, if one of your 2019 resolutions is to plant habitat for beneficial insects, I have two pieces of advice:
Spend 2019 controlling weeds. Even where we transplanted, weed pressure was a challenge, and investing in weed control before you plant is worth it!
If you have sufficient funds and need or want to establish habitat quickly, transplants are the way to go. Mulch will help you with your battle against weeds.
In 2019, we’re planning to keep monitoring these plots. Check back to see how the fall-planted and direct-seeded treatments look in their second year. Most of these methods are expected to take several years to reach their full potential. We will also start counting the insects (and insect-like creatures, like spiders) we find in these plots. During 2018, we already started seeing some beneficial insects showing up in these plots, so I’m looking forward to counting them once spring finally gets here!
Here are just a few of the beneficial insects we spotted in these plots during 2018. Soldier beetles, many hover flies, and lacewing larvae are all natural enemies of pests. We also saw lots of lady beetles and several other types of bees.
Thanks to Betsy Lamb and Brian Eshenaur who are working on this project with me, and to Bryan Brown for doing a weed assessment for us. You can read more about this project and see more pictures from 2018 at Biocontrol Bytes. Subscribe to make sure you don’t miss future updates!