Weeding tools have come a long way! Last summer, Eric Gallandt invited me to present the results of my latest “stacked” cultivation trials at the Northeast Mechanical Weed Control Expo. I brought my camera along to document the exciting exhibits by vendors and other researchers. Stacked cultivation featured prominently, as did enhanced accuracy – achieved through improved steering capability or camera-guided tools.
(Above) KULT Kress demonstrated their camera guided sweeps and finger weeders (only one row operating). These weeds were too large for optimal finger weeder performance. In-row weeds are most effectively controlled when less than one inch tall.
(above) The camera guidance system display was brought out from the tractor cab to show participants how it focuses on green plants to determine the location of the crop row.
(above) HAK showcased a new cultivating tractor with sweeps (left), finger weeders (center), and tines for the wheel tracks (right).
(above) Steketee brought their Crumbler Rotors (left), finger weeders (center), and side knives (right).
(above) The cultivating tractor from Tilmor is reminiscent of the Allis Chalmers G, but notice the new crane-winch system for moving tools into place.
(above) Tilmor also demonstrated a walk-behind tractor with a potential “stacked” cultivation setup.
(above) Jen Goff, from Johnny’s Selected Seeds, showcased several innovative wheel hoes and hand tools.
(above) Ellen Mallory PhD, and Tom Molloy from UMaine discuss their results testing the potential of the CombCut and inter-row hoeing in small grains.
(above) “Stacking” cultivation tools is not just for vegetable crops, this combination has proved effective in small grains.
(above) Slow-motion-video of camera-guided hoeing in a small grain. This practice is gaining popularity in Europe but is still uncommon in the United States.
(below) The futuristic “Tertill” from Franklin Robotics. This solar-powered weeding robot attacks weeds with a string trimmer on its belly and it senses crop plants based on their height. I can’t believe this is now on the market! Flying cars will be next!
March 20, 2020
by Joellen Lampman Comments Off on Protect yourself from spring ticks
“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” – Margaret Atwood
The spring of 2020 might have everyone’s yards incredibly tidy, as gardening and yard work are on the short list for things we can all do while social distancing. But COVID-19 isn’t the only disease we need to watch for, and new research shows that protecting yourself from tick-borne pathogens is more important than ever.
They’re active now
This table shows the textbook description of when blacklegged tick lifestages are active.
Blacklegged ticks are most active in the spring and fall, although you can often find them active year round if conditions are right (above 37o in the winter, cool and damp in the summer). Many still consider ticks to be a summer pest, but the poppy-seed sized nymph starts questing in the spring, and there have already been reports of nymphal activity in New York. These ticks are considered to be the most dangerous life stage due to their small size, so be sure to put all your tick prevention strategies into place now.
In reality, different blacklegged lifestages can be active almost anytime of year depending on weather conditions.
Keep it clean
A study looking at the effectiveness of recommended yard management measures against ticks showed the presence of trash could predict an increase in ticks over a clean yard, likely due to an increase in the number of small rodents that find both shelter and food amongst the trash. This was more pronounced in yards without forested areas. Sanitation is an important IPM step, so pick up and pack out that trash!
Check your leaves
Both adult and nymphal blacklegged ticks are active in the spring.
Identify areas in your yard where leaves have accumulated. Are they close to areas you spend a lot of time, like the kids’ swing set or your garden? It’s best to remove them. Are they in the far corner where no one ever goes? You can probably leave them, but be aware that the tick risk will likely be higher. Check for yourself. It’s pretty easy to monitor for ticks.
Back in 2013, the Northeast School IPM Working Group (NESIWG) received a Partnership Grant from the Northeastern IPM Center to develop a Best Management Practices (BMP) website.
Reducing pest and pesticide exposure is important for children, just as it is for district staff and visitors. But schools are especially challenging to manage because they include such varied and heavily used settings such as classrooms, cafeterias, laboratories, auditoriums, theaters, playing fields, playgrounds and gardens.
The burden of use on an athletic field. (NYSIPM photo)
With the help of many contributors, the NESIWG both created and collected resources for school IPM. We wanted to help administrators, school boards, parents, teaching and support staff, athletic directors, groundskeepers, kitchen staff and custodians how a designated pest management plan can reduce both pests and the need for pesticides. The website was a success.
By 2018, NESIWG members saw the need to update old links and fill out gaps in the content. Eager to keep the website a useful and comprehensive resource, the working group applied for and received a NEIPM Communications grant. Again using focus groups, the following changes were made:
a reorganization of the pest species list,
additional information on relevant pesticide use regulations in all Northeastern states,
grouping resources by stakeholder roles,
the addition of two new pages: Breakfast in the Classroom and Playgrounds
Additionally, the recent grant included an update of the working group’s homepage, a new ranking of regional school IPM priorities, a current membership list and an index of school IPM contacts in the Northeast.
Front (Outside) of Brochure
Now, with changes soon to be complete, the NESIWG welcomes your visits and assistance in sharing this helpful site. After all, finding and using the website is key!
“None of us is as smart as all of us.” –Ken Blanchard
Each year, NYS IPM staff are busy blogging about relevant topics. Here’s a recap of some of our more popular 2019 offerings:
ThinkIPM is our catchall blog and a great way to keep a pulse on what’s happening in New York State IPM.
No one wants to find an embedded tick.
We have spent a lot of time in the past year talking about how to prevent tick bites, from dressing in long pants, using repellents, and conducting daily tick checks. But sometimes one gets past you and you discover that new lump behind your knee has legs. There are always question about what to do next, and Help! I found a tick on me! was the most popular 2019 blog post.
Spotted lanternfly distribution map as of November 2019
Spotted lanternfly was also on your mind, and Traveling for the Holidays? provided a checklist for those traveling within the spotted lanternfly quarantine zone. Trust us when we say that you do not want to unintentionally transport Spotted Lanternfly egg masses in New York state.
Other IPM Blogs – Besides ThinkIPM, we have more dedicated blogs, and you don’t need to be a specialist to subscribe to them. Here are some of the more popular posts:
The most popular Biocontrol Bytes offering was a guest post from our collegues in the Cornell’s School of Integrative Plant Science, section of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology, Anna Wallis, Kerik Cox, and Mei-Wah Cho. They discussed moving beyond antibiotics to the use of biopesticides in the post, Battling Fire Blight with Biologicals.
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!
April 22, 2019
by Debra E. Marvin Comments Off on Weeding Robot!
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.
The THINK IPM Blog tries to cover the breadth of our program but if you know anything about us, it’s that pest management covers much more than cockroaches and dandelions. Here’s the rest of our blogs:
The goal of this blog is to inform New Yorkers who are trying to control pests – on farms, in backyards, in businesses, or in homes – about the role that biological control plays (or could play) in successful integrated pest management. Additional information and resources can be found here.
The information is posted by Amara Dunn, Biocontrol Specialist with the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program. New content will be posted approximately once a month. Click the “Subscribe” button on the right to make sure you don’t miss anything! Content may include information on the effective use of biocontrol, responses to questions from stakeholders, and updates on new or ongoing biocontrol projects of interest to New Yorkers.
If you have questions about biocontrol, you can contact Amara by email (email@example.com), or you can call her office (315-787-2206).
This is a seasonal scouting report providing information on presence, identification, and management guidelines for significant field crop pests in New York. This report provides timely information to help users learn about, and better anticipate, current and emerging problems and improve their integrated pest management efforts.
The IPM Ornamentals program works with university researchers, extension educators, crop consultants and growers to identify pest management issues and find answers. We deliver the IPM solutions to growers through hands-on workshops, demonstrations, and publications.
The purpose of this site is to provide weekly reports from the NY sweet corn pheromone trap network. The trap network is a collaboration between the NYS IPM Program, local Cornell Cooperative Extension programs, farmers, and crop consultants. We also provide scouting and threshold information for fresh market sweet corn and links to resources on the major sweet corn insect and disease pests. The information on these pages is maintained by Marion Zuefle, Vegetable IPM Extension Area Educator with the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program, with help from Craig Cramer, Communications Specialist with the Department of Horticulture at Cornell University.
To contact Marion: firstname.lastname@example.org
Marion Zuefle, Vegetable IPM Extension Area Educator
IPM House, 607 W. North St., Cornell AgriTech, Geneva, NY 14456, (315) 787-2379, Email: email@example.com
You’re NEWA is managed by Dan Olmstead, NEWA Coordinator, NYS IPM Program.
The Network for Environment and Weather Applications (NEWA) delivers weather data from weather stations primarily located on farms through the Internet at newa.cornell.edu and automatically calculates and displays weather data summaries, crop production tools, and integrated pest management (IPM) forecasts. NEWA tools promote precision IPM and crop production practices.
Dan Olmstead, NEWA Coordinator, housed at IPM House, Cornell AgriTech, Geneva, NY 14456, 315-787-2207, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
March 28, 2019
by Joellen Lampman Comments Off on Happy National Weed Appreciation Day!
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.
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!