Researchers at Iowa State University have been awarded a $2 million grant from the United States Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA) to investigate strategies for pest control in organic production. When farmers choose to farm organically, they often have to find new ways to deal with pressure from pests and diseases. However, ISU researchers will form a team with colleagues from the University of Kentucky and Cornell University to investigate new ways to ward off cucumber beetles which may carry diseases that can have a devastating effect on specific crops.
The research will focus on novel ways to protect cucurbits which are a class of crops that includes melons, squash, and cucumbers. Specifically, the study will look at mesotunnels, which are protective barriers for crops using mesh tunnel system to exclude pests but allow for the incorporation of bees for pollination. Farmers that choose to raise crops organically have to forego the use of many conventional inputs, but the researchers hope that by adding new forms of pest control, organic farmers will have more tools to produce a bounty of quality produce.
Read the full story at the Iowa State News Service here.