Grant awarded: Russell Groves and Paul Mitchell part of team to receive $6 million from USDA to study insect management strategies for potatoes

Russell Groves, professor of entomology, and Paul Mitchell, professor of agricultural and applied econmics, are part of a research team that was recently awarded $6 million from the USDA for the project Enhancing integrated insect pest management strategies for U.S. potato production systems. The project is part of the USDA Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI).

Project summary (from CRIS website): This proposal responds to the current crisis threatening potato production in the U.S. regarding insect management. The U.S. potato industry has been most commonly using neonicotinoid insecticides to target key insect pests, but this mode of action group is now increasingly under scrutiny by food / nursery retailers and regulators. The use of this product is therefore in jeopardy and the potato industry needs more robust and enduring alternatives that are environmentally sustainable and address consumer concerns. These alternatives will rely more heavily on biological, ecological and environmental information. We also address important social and economic impacts and facilitate the adoption of new strategies. Most of our objectives are focused on short-term deliverables that can respond to the U.S. potato industry’s current crisis. The long-term goals are to continue adoption of strategies developed in this proposal long into the future and to continue to build on it. To address these issues, we developed the following objectives: (1.) Develop and evaluate non-neonicotinoid pest management programs; (2.) Develop pest prediction and decision-making tools; (3.) Evaluate the socioeconomic influences and impacts associated with the transition from neonicotinoids to new pest management strategies, (4) and Facilitate adoption of new pest management strategies. The outcomes of the project will 1) find immediate solutions for managing potato insect pests without using neonicotinoids, 2) create a healthy seed supply for U. S. seed markets, 3) identify less toxic pesticides with fewer negative impacts, and 5) increase reliance on decision support tools to reduce production costs.