774,000 Cockroaches in Eden: Insecticides Protect the Lunchroom

Duke And Duchess Of Cornwell Visit The Eden Project

Duke And Duchess Of Cornwall Visit The Eden Project

Established in 1999, the Eden Project, near St Austell in Cornwall, has been an overwhelming success, attracting visitors from the UK and overseas to view some 3,000 plant species in three biomes.

The Eden project’s mission is to promote the understanding and responsible management of the vital relationship between plants, people and resources leading to a sustainable future for all.

Cockroaches were introduced into the RFB with some of the earliest plantings. The biome provided ideal living conditions for cockroaches with abundant leaf litter, temperatures of 25-30°C and mean relative humidity (RH) of 60% during daylight hours, rising to >90% overnight. From the start, cockroach control was contracted out to a pest control company, but by 2003 cockroach numbers were escalating and it was recognized that the control strategy was not effective.

“…populations of both cockroach species continued to increase overall. …the numbers of cockroaches had grown so large that rare young epiphytic plants such as orchids and many annual seedlings were being badly damaged on planting out. A survey using pre-baited cockroach traps was implemented, placing traps at 130 locations in the biome. From the resulting catches, the population was estimated at 774,000 individuals. …Of particular concern was P. australasiae being caught on traps placed in the catering areas adjacent to the RFB.

The only viable alternative was to use pesticide-fortified baits, two of which were available for immediate use in the UK: fipronil and hydramethylnon. …Baits were first applied in the RFB in November 2005 and in the first six months 3350g of bait were used. The treatment had an immediate and dramatic impact on the population of P. australasiae, whilst gradually reducing the population of P. surinamensis to manageable levels. In addition to the baiting programme, monthly sprays of lambdacyhalothrin were applied to an ‘exclusion zone’ consisting of the boundaries between the RFB and the catering areas and the entrance footbridge that connects RFB to a large café where the presence of cockroaches would be unacceptable.

With reduced cockroach populations, control treatments were switched in 2008 from baits to spot spray treatments using lambda-cyhalothrin applied when needed to population hot-spots, usually of 5-10m radius around the ‘hot’ traps, identified using the population distribution maps. The monthly treatment of the ‘exclusion zone’ has remained unchanged.”

Author: Treseder, K., et al.
Affiliation: Eden Project.
Title: Evolution of Pest-Management Strategies in the Rain-Forest Biome at the Eden Project, the First 10 Years.
Source: Outlooks on Pest Management. February 2011. Pgs. 22-31.

Insect Pests in Eden: Sprays Are Mandatory

The Eden Project

The Eden Project

The Eden Project was designed as a world class visitor destination to celebrate the interdependence of plants and people and to educate people about the need to care for the world that cares for them.

The project site, located in a recently decommissioned china clay quarry near St Austell, Cornwall, UK, is 105 hectares in size and consists of two large enclosed biomes set in gardens (outdoors biome) along with an educational resources building (the core) and a visitor reception building.

With two large indoor biomes covering the humid tropics and warm temperature climates, the outdoor biome with a range of temperate environments, plus several catering facilities, a warehouse and a waste recycling yard, pest management at Eden is very broad with many challenges in all areas.

Despite the procedures put in place for interception, a steady stream of introductions of pest and non-pest invertebrate species has occurred in the RFB.

“Unfortunately, during the early years of the project a number of non-indigenous pest species were introduced into the Rain Forest Biome (RFB) and not successfully eliminated. Currently there are five species that are the subjects of a containment notice issued by DEFRA; banana borer, banana aphid, atratus white fly, coconut mealybug and latin aphid. The containment notice dictates that the Eden Project has to monitor the populations of these pests and maintain pesticide programmes to control their populations.

In January 2002, adults of Tobacco White Fly were detected on leaf samples collected from the RFB. This discovery instigated the placement of an eradication order by DEFRA which initiated the immediate implementation of monitoring and a chemical control programme.

Eradication was achieved after a two year intensive spray programme involving repeated biome-wide sprays using a range of chemicals including buprofezin, thiacloprid, pymetrozine and nicotine.”

Author: Treseder, K., et al.
Affiliation: Eden Project.
Title: Evolution of Pest-Management Strategies in the Rain-Forest Biome at the Eden Project, the First 10 Years.
Source: Outlooks on Pest Management. February 2011. Pgs. 22-31.

Herbicide Use in Finland has Increased Significantly to Protect the North Sea

Herbicide sales: Finland

Herbicide sales: Finland

In 2001, herbicide use began to increase in Finland largely due to government policies subsidizing growers to no longer plow fields for weed control. Finland is a signatory to the North Sea Treaty which includes a goal of reducing nutrients into the North Sea by half. Research showed that a considerable amount of phosphorus moves into waterways with eroded soils from fields that are plowed in the autumn. Thus, growers now are using herbicides to control weeds without plowing in order to keep phosphorus out of the North Sea.

“Our weed survey represented part of a follow-up project on the impacts of agri-environment policy in Finland. For instance, reduced tillage has been one of the subsidized measures primarily implemented to reduce nutrient leaching. Spring cereals, 1.1 million hectares in total, covering 50-55% of arable land, dominate crop production in Finland. In the 1990s ploughing was still the standard tillage practice in spring cereal fields, while the latest statistics show that only approximately half of the cultivated cereal field area is currently ploughed. Ploughing has been replaced with reduced tillage methods (29%) or direct drilling (17%). At the same time, the sales of glyphosate have more than doubled within a decade in Finland.

Increased use of glyphosate in Finland is notable; in 1999, the annual sales of glyphosate products were sufficient to treat about 13% of arable land under cultivation or fallow, while the same figure had increased to 37% in 2010.”

Author(s): Salonen, J., et al.
Affiliation: MTT Agrifood Research Finland, Plant Production Research, Jokionen, Finland
Title: Impact of changed cropping practices on weed occurrence in spring cereals in Finland – a comparison of surveys in 1997-1999 and 2007-2009.
Source: Weed Research. 53:110-120. 2012.

Southern California Vineyards Recover Thanks to Insecticide Applications

Grapevines Destroyed in 1999

Grapevines Destroyed in 1999

Temecula Today

Temecula Today

In 1999, about one-third of the vineyards in Temecula Valley, Riverside County, California were destroyed due to Pierce’s Disease which is caused by a bacteria transmitted to grapevines by an insect-the glassy winged sharpshooter. The disease seemed destined to spread throughout Southern California. However, research demonstrated that a carefully-timed insecticide application would prevent the sharpshooter from transmitting the disease to grapevines. As a result of this insecticide use, the wine grape industry in Southern California has recovered and is prospering.

“Twelve years ago a Pierce’s disease epidemic in Southern California wine grapes prompted a multi-pronged local, state and federal attack to contain the disease spread and find a cure or treatment.

Riverside County agriculture officials declared a local emergency in 1999 and 300 acres of Temecula wine grape vines were destroyed after they were found to be infested with the glassy winged sharpshooter.

Emergencies were declared, a task force was formed, and in 2000 $22.3 million in federal financial assistance was secured to reduce pest infestations and support research.

Research found that the Southern California epidemics were almost entirely the result of vine-to-vine transmission…. A protocol of applying one carefully timed application of a persistent systemic insecticide such as imidacloprid virtually eliminates the vine-to-vine spread.

Ben Drake is a Temecula-area wine grape grower and vineyard manager who began seeing problems from PD in the Temecula Valley as early as 1997.

We’ve found that if we apply (imidacloprid) at the middle to the end of May, before the sharpshooter moves out of the citrus and goes into the vineyards, we get levels of the material into the plant high enough that when the sharpshooter flies over from the citrus groves to try it, they just fly back where they came from. Or, if they feed long enough, it will kill them.

But just look at the Temecula Valley now to understand what’s changed: From 12 wineries in 1999, the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association website today lists more than 50 growers and 34 wineries…. A thriving agritourism industry has developed…. Existing wineries are expanding and new ones are under construction or in planning phases.”

Author: Christine Thompson
Affiliation: Reporter
Title: Grape growers urged to remain vigilant against sharpshooter pest
Source: Western Farm Press. 2011-12-12. Available at: http://westernfarmpress.com/grapes/grape-growers-urged-remain-vigilant-against-sharpshooter-pest

The Story of Coffee Rust: Why the British Drink Tea

In England in the early and mid-1800s, the most popular drink was coffee from plantations in Ceylon (Sri Lanka). When the coffee rust fungus destroyed Ceylon’s coffee trees in 1875, the plantations began growing tea.

“When the coffee rust fungus, Hemileia vastatrix, reached Ceylon in 1875, nearly 400,000 acres of the island were covered with coffee trees. No effective chemical fungicide was available to protect the foliage, so the fungus was able to colonize the leaves until nearly all the trees had been defoliated. … In 1870, Ceylon exported 100 million pounds of coffee. By 1889, production was down to 5 million pounds. In less than 20 years, many coffee plantations had been destroyed, and production had essentially ceased.”

“As the coffee trees were dying, however, the plantation owners noticed that the thousand or so acres of tea bushes were still healthy. …the owners replaced most of the dead coffee trees with tea bushes. By 1875, more than 1 billion tea seedlings had been planted on 300,000 acres—an amazing increase from the acreage planted only a few years earlier. … Luckily, no fungus invaded the tea crop immediately, and newly discovered fungicides were soon available to protect tea from its fungal pathogens.”

Authors: G.L. Shumann and C.J. D’Arcy
Publication: Hungry Planet: Stories of Plant Diseases. 2012. APS Press.

UK Consumers Would Need to Pay 40% More for Food…

Most cropland in the UK is treated with pesticides to prevent diseases, insects and weeds from lowering crop yields. Without the use of pesticides, crop production would fall significantly resulting in higher prices for consumers. A 2010 study estimated the impact of the lower food production on consumer costs…

“This report estimates that without plant protection products, food security in the UK, and by implication in the EU and in most countries across the world, would be severely reduced and the cost of food would rise substantially. In the UK the cost of food would rise by about 40 per cent, increasing food and drink expenditures by some £70 billion per year and raised to the level of the EU this implies additional food expenditures of some £750 billion.”

Author: Séan Rickard
Publication: The Value of Crop Protection: An Assessment of the Full Benefits for the Food Chain and Living Standards. 2010 Report from the Crop Protection Association.

Apple Production in the UK Made Viable by Pesticides

UK apple growers produce about 400 million pounds of apples per year. About 18 insecticide and fungicide sprays are made yearly to control pests including scab, mildew, aphids and codling moth. By applying a full spray program, good growers have restricted losses due to pests and diseases to very low levels, usually no more than 1-2%. Below, an economic cost-benefit study determined the likely effect on UK apple production if growers did not use pesticides…

“Apples are the most important fruit crop in the UK in terms of area of production and require relatively high levels of pesticide inputs. … If pesticides were not used, apple production would thus not be commercially viable, and the market shortfall would be made up by imports at a similar price. With a negative gross margin apple producers would leave the industry and find other uses for their land.”

Authors: J.P.G. Webster and R.G. Bowles
Affiliation: Farm Business Unit, Wye College, University of London, Kent, UK
Title: Estimating the economic costs and benefits of pesticide use in apples.
Publication: Proceedings of the Brighton Crop Protection Conference, Pests and Diseases. 1996. 4B-1:325-330.

Herbicide Use Can Increase Bumblebee Populations

Bumblebees play a crucial role in crop and wildflower pollination. One way to increase bumblebee populations would be to increase the number of wildflowers growing in grassy strips around crop fields. Recent research in the UK has shown that by sowing wildflowers around crop fields where grasses have been suppressed with herbicides, bumblebee populations increase.

“The benefit of applying graminicide [herbicide targeting grasses] was confirmed by a significant increase in sown wildflower cover. This supports previous work showing that graminicide applications can reduce levels of competitive grasses and promote the development of wildflowers.”

“This study has demonstrated that wildflowers can be successfully introduced into existing grass buffer strips when managed with a combination of cultivation, seed and graminicide, producing greater bumblebee abundances than existing conventionally managed strips.”

Authors: Robin J. Blake et al.
Affiliation: Center for Agri-Environmental Research, University of Reading, UK
Title: Enhancing habitat to help the plight of the bumblebee.
Publication: Pest Management Science (2011) 67:377-379.

Fungicide Use on UK Crop Acres Results in Significant Reductions in Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Fungicides are used on more than 90% of the cereal acres in the UK resulting in yield increases of 16-20%. Without fungicide use, it would be necessary to bring about 20% more land into cereal production to meet demand. All of the operations needed to bring a parcel of land into crop production (tractor operations, fertilization, pesticide application) result in the emission of greenhouse gases. Since fungicide use reduces the number of acres that need to be in production, their use is credited with a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

“The GHG emissions produced by growing arable crops derive mainly from agricultural inputs, such as fertiliser applications, the use of field machinery and crop treatments including disease control measures such as fungicides. … Nevertheless, the largest contributors to barley emissions are fertilisers, which account for 71-76% of all emissions. … Field operations contributed 19-23% of total emissions. … Crop protection chemicals contributed less than 1% of the total emissions.”

Fungicides were applied to 98 and 87% by area of UK winter and spring barley, respectively, in 2008. … If fungicide treatment had not been applied, an additional crop area of 165,000 ha (17%) on average would have been required each year to produce the same harvested yields of winter and spring barley in 2005-2009. Furthermore, an additional crop area of 638,000 ha (16%) on average would have been required to produce the same harvested yields of the four crops winter barley, spring barley, winter wheat and winter oilseed rape in 2005-2009.”

“Fungicide treatment of the major UK arable crops is estimated to have directly decreased UK GHG emissions by over 1.5 Mt CO2 eq. in 2009. … These results suggest that disease control in UK arable crops can have the positive environmental effect of reducing direct GHG emissions by making more efficient use of the inputs to agricultural production. …use of fungicides applied to control disease in UK barley contributed relatively little to GHGs while increasing yield and decreasing GHG emissions per tonne of crop.”

Authors: David Hughes et al.
Affiliation: Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, Herts, UK
Title: Effects of disease control by fungicides on greenhouse gas emissions by UK arable crop production.
Publication: Pest Management Science. 2011. 67:1082-1092.

Fungicides May Increase Health Benefits of Fruit Juice

Fungicides are widely-used to control diseases of fruit. Some fungicides have been shown to alter antioxidant metabolism in plant tissues. UK researchers conducted an experiment to see if fungicide applications could increase the health benefits of blackcurrant juice, a fruit grown widely in Europe and New Zealand…

“[Blackcurrant] is well regarded and strongly marketed for its exceptional antioxidant capacity. …cultivars have not yet been released with complete resistance to a range of yield- and quality-reducing fungal diseases. These diseases therefore still require extensive chemical control within plantations. … Fungal diseases in blackcurrant have been demonstrated to be effectively controlled by a range of fungicide classes including the strobilurin group. … In addition to their antifungal activities, the strobilurin group of fungicides have been shown to modulate plant physiology and biochemistry, resulting in yield increases and improvements in crop quality.”

“The impact of fungicide treatment on fungal infection and blackcurrant juice quality was examined in a series of field experiments over the course of 2 years. … In conclusion, the work presented here demonstrates a clear benefit of fungicide application in the control of foliar disease. Furthermore, there is an indication that fungicide application could improve juice quality with respect to both sensory characteristics and potential health benefits of juice consumption.”

Authors: AJ Nwankno, SL Gordon, SR Verrall, RM Brennan and RD Hancock
Affiliation: The James Hutton Institute, Dundee, UK
Title: Treatment with fungicides influences phytochemical quality of blackcurrant juice
Publication: Annals of Applied Biology 2012 160:86-96.