Manipulating Crop Fertilization For Better Pest Management

Manipulating Crop Fertilization For Better Pest Management

Reducing fertilization is one solution to decelerating pest population growth rate and increasing the effectiveness of pest control. Carlos Bográn, associate professor and Extension specialist at Texas A&M University, will lead a discussion on manipulating crop fertilization at the 25th annual Pest Management Conference presented by Society of American Florists and Greenhouse Grower, and he shared a couple of thoughts about the topic with us.

What are some of the benefits growers should know about reducing crop fertilization?

“Optimizing fertilizer use to match the plant/product requirements for the specific production system and market will have multiple advantages for growers, including reduction of production costs, reduction of environmental pollution risks and enhanced efficacy of chemical and biological pest control.”

OK, reduced costs and environmental impacts are logical benefits. But in a nutshell, how does reduced fertilization impact pest control?

“Insect pest populations respond positively to increases in plant nutrition. Excess of nutrients (due to higher-than-needed fertilization) generally leads to larger (higher number of insects per plant) pest populations that are harder to ‘clean’ than small populations. Usually, high-nutrient plants are more attractive and better hosts for pests and diseases. The issue is to finetune fertilization to attain high-quality plants but avoid unnecessary pest/disease risks and minimize control costs.”

What are you most looking forward to about the conference?

“I’m looking forward to interacting with growers to share some of our experiences and learning about their own experiences and observations on the impact of fertilization rate manipulation.”

Bográn is scheduled to present on manipulating crop fertilization on Friday, Feb. 20 from 9-9:20 a.m. The research he’ll present has been conducted by a team at Texas A&M that includes Kevin Heinz, Andrew Chow, Scott Ludwig, Fred Davies and himself.

Bográn will also lead a discussion later in the day on strengthening workforce education when language is a barrier.

For more information on SAF Pest Management Conference, visit www.pestconference.org.

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