Biological Pest Controls

[ Silence ] [ Music ]>>Traditionally, pests have been dealt with
by spraying pesticide. And that’s certainly an effective way to deal with them, but it’s
kind of like a nuclear assault.>>You’re actually killing beneficial insects.
So, you’re messing up this symbiotic relationship that naturally occurs in nature.>>They can be really dangerous to people,
especially when we’re in this setting where there’s so many students come in every day.
There’s research going on in all these greenhouses.>>Using biocontrols is really satisfying
because it is working with a natural system instead of against it. Biological pest control
is using good bugs to battle bad bugs. And in some cases, it’s as simple as purchasing
the right bug and releasing it at the right place and the right time. And they will either
use the pest organism in the greenhouse as prey and eat it or they will use it to complete
their lifecycle and in the process of that they will kill the pest organism. And they
look very much like spider mites, but they’re predators on spider mites. When I got this
grant, that provided a little bit of funding for me to have two interns dedicated to biocontrol
each semester. So, all is well. So, dump those–their job is to scout the greenhouses for the presence
of pests. And they go out and look around to see what pest problems we have in the greenhouse.
And we keep some notes about what pests are where and then we use that information to
determine what biocontrol organisms to order. But down amongst them, there are these little
orange maggots. We basically go out as a team and deploy those biocontrol organisms where
they need to go. Hang the cards, release the wasps, dump the predatory mites on to the
plants.>>Basically we know where our pests are already,
so we will implement them weekly in the same areas. But it’s nice to monitor in the morning
because we can actually see our progress developing. The biocontrols have actually been a big help
in this greenhouse.>>When you’re sprinkling this media everywhere,
it’s just like saw dust. It becomes almost mundane, which is like kind of bizarre that
this, like, incredible process has become this mundane chore that I do at work.>>When I started doing this, I realized that
the students really were interested in using biocontrols. I mean, for example, the parasitoid
wasps that lay their eggs in those aphids and then the maggot grows in the aphid and
then pops out. It’s like the movie “Alien,” right? That’s what everyone thinks of. And
that’s pretty attractive to students. But we permit these barley plants to become completely
infected with aphids.>>My first or second day on the job, Scott
took me on a walk around and he showed me the parasitized aphid, which we call a mummy.
And I just thought that was the coolest thing ever. So, when he recommended me for the biocontrol
apprenticeship, I took it right away.>>The thing that I really like about my job
is that I come here and it’s, like, something new every day. I get to interact with different
kinds of people, which I think is really relevant for the type of things that I want to do with
my life. And kind of get an inside look on how all these people operate in the context
of this sustainable environment. So, it’s really interesting to see how people are excited
about it and how people want to be involved in it and how they actually execute it.>>The number of pesticide applications that
I’m making now is significantly less than before. I think we can continue to reduce
the amount of pesticides we’re using to a certain extent, although in some cases, pesticides
are required for the research. We have a really awesome teaching operation in the College
of Ag here. And a lot of plant science classes have greenhouse components, so there are actually
students growing plants in the greenhouse. I want to reduce or eliminate pesticide applications
on these teaching crops, so that students will not be exposed to pesticide residues
when they’re coming in contact with their crops during class work.

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