Purdue Needs Growers for Pollinator Health Study

A group of entomologists and others, led by Dr. Ian Kaplan from the Department of Entomology, recently received funding from the Specialty Crop Research Initiative from USDA/NIFA for $3,673,611 to study “Navigating the Trade-off Between Pest Management and Pollinator Conservation in Cucurbits.” The grant will begin September 1, 2016 and run for 5 years. The work will be done in collaboration with scientists from Michigan and Ohio. The objectives of the study are: Objective 1: Identify insecticide management strategies that simultaneously optimize pest suppression while minimizing non-target exposure to cucurbit pollinators. Objective 2: Determine the consequences of within- and extra-field neonic exposure for honey and wild bee health using large-scale field manipulations. Objective 3: Assess the ecological and socioeconomic trade-offs among pollinators, pests, crop yield, and farm profitability resulting from alternative pesticide regimes. Purdue’s portion of the study will focus on watermelons and muskmelons, with Michigan focusing on cucumbers and Ohio studying pumpkin and squash. The research will require the use of growers’ fields. A number of melon growers have already expressed their willingness to participate in the research and we will be contacting others in the near future. For more information about the funded SCRI grants see https://nifa.usda.gov/press-release/secretary-vilsack-announces-365-million-specialty-crop-research-and-extension.

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