The broad emphasis of my research program is to understand relevant interactions between nature, crops, and farmers by revealing synergies and conflicts between pest control, environmental, and socio-economic goals. Focused on a central theme of geography, my program uses a landscape-level research approach that unifies fundamental concepts of arthropod life history strategies with landscape ecology to understand complex communities of pests and beneficial arthropods. We study these basic ecological principles in a framework of contemporary agricultural systems to generate research-based extension information that targets key stakeholder groups (growers, consultants, extension, industry) with the goal of reducing the negative impacts of pest management practices. Research in my program fits within four intersecting thematic areas: a) Understanding the effects of changing landscape composition and configuration on pests with different life histories. b) Documenting negative impacts pesticide use across multiple levels of ecological organization. c) Integrating insecticide resistance management and geospatial crop production data to advance understanding of spatiotemporal insecticide resistance selection and refuge patches in agroecosystems. d) Adapting existing precision agricultural technologies to more effectively document and manage insect pest problems in agricultural fields and reduce unnecessary pesticide inputs. Work in my lab combines on-farm measurements, manipulative experiments, geospatial science, and statistical approaches to understand pest issues in an array of agricultural crops and production systems. The long-term goal of this program will be to address current and emerging crop-pest issues using an agile research and extension approach that is sensitive to rapidly changing agricultural practices in an era of technologically driven crop production. Armed with this knowledge, we can design and deliver adequate decision-support tools that address the needs of stakeholders to manage emerging problems through a revitalized Integrated Pest Management approach. Through incremental research-based improvements, my program will contribute to a broader effort to develop durable and effective pest mitigation strategies that reduce reliance on pesticides, improve the resiliency of production systems, and decrease the cascading negative impacts of agriculture on rural communities and the environment.
- Extended Sentinel Monitoring of Helicoverpa zea Resistance to Cry and Vip3Aa Toxins in Bt Sweet Corn: Assessing Changes in Phenotypic and Allele Frequencies of Resistance , Insects (2023)
- No-till imparts yield stability and greater cumulative yield under variable weather conditions in the southeastern USA piedmont , FIELD CROPS RESEARCH (2023)
- Optimization of 13-tetradecenyl acetate sex pheromone for trapping Melanotus communis (Coleoptera: Elateridae) , Journal of Economic Entomology (2023)
- Spotted Cucumber Beetle/Southern Corn Rootworm: Profile of a polyphagous native pest , Journal of Integrated Pest Management (2023)
- A Multimodal Sensing Platform for Interdisciplinary Research in Agrarian Environments , SENSORS (2022)
- A Symmetrical Diester as the Sex Attractant Pheromone of the North American Click Beetle Parallelostethus attenuatus (Say) (Coleoptera: Elateridae) , Journal of Chemical Ecology (2022)
- Helicoverpa zea (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) feeding incidence and survival on Bt maize in relation to maize in the landscape , Pest Management Science (2022)
- Helicoverpa zea (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) Thresholds and Yield Compensation Between Soybeans with Determinate and Indeterminate Growth Habits , JOURNAL OF ECONOMIC ENTOMOLOGY (2022)
- Host plant resistance, foliar insecticide application and natural enemies play a role in the management of Melanaphis sorghi (Hemiptera: Aphididae) in grain sorghum , FRONTIERS IN PLANT SCIENCE (2022)
- Imidacloprid-resistant Aphis gossypii populations are more common in cotton-dominated landscapes , PEST MANAGEMENT SCIENCE (2022)
The CleanSEED project aims to develop a research and extension proposal that will address the critical needs of U.S. sweetpotato certified seed programs using stakeholder input to identify priority research areas and build relationships between industry representatives, top research scientists, and clean plant organizations. The project will include a collaborative process that brings together multi-state and multi-institutional teams of biological, physical, and social scientists to promote a trans-disciplinary systems-based approach, create a plan to address USDA priorities, and a plan for disseminating the results. The following SCRI program legislatively mandated focus areas will be addressed: a) Pest and disease management - sweetpotato clean seed is integral to management not only of systemic pathogens such as viruses and soft rot bacteria, but also to soilborne pathogens that infect roots such as the storage roots used for sweetpotato seed; b)Emerging and invasive species - black rot caused by the root and soilborne fungus Ceratocystis fimbriata re-emerged in 2013-14 and was apparently spread to other states on seed roots. GRKN, Meloidogyne enterolobii, was first found in Florida in 2001, then reported in North Carolina in 2011, and was intercepted on sweetpotato seed roots in interstate shipments in 2018. It is an invasive threat that poses a serious problem to vegetable and row crop industries throughout the U.S. and sweetpotato seed roots are an ideal vehicle for its dissemination; c)To improve production efficiency, handling and processing, productivity, and profitability over the long term - common U.S. sweetpotato viruses can reduce yields 25-40%, affect skin color and uniformity of shape. Black rot and GRKN can render sweetpotatoes unmarketable and quarantines for GRKN and sweetpotato weevil restrict efficient movement of sweetpotatoes to various markets; d)Improved monitoring systems for agricultural pests - breeding lines entered into therapy programs are routinely tested for viruses present, improving methods of seed inspection could provide an additional opportunity to detect new or re-emerging problems; e) Effective systems for pre-harvest and postharvest management of quarantine pests - clean seed of sweetpotato is a proven means of managing a long list of pathogens and pests that can infect or infest storage roots, but improved delivery systems and education programs will be needed to take advantage of this opportunity.
A Pipeline of a Resilient Workforce that integrates Advanced Analytics to the Agriculture, Food and Energy Supply Chain
Lorsban has been the cornerstone of soil pest control in sweetpotato and white potato for decades. A recent decision to remove registrations for chlorpyrifos (Lorsban) has left a major gap in pest control plans for sweetpotato in the southern United States. The goal of this project is to build innovative Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs that alleviate reliance on chlorpyrifos while increasing sustainability of the sweetpotato production system. Objectives will be to 1) build monitoring and modeling capabilities for adult click beetles, and 2) develop innovative strategies to control wireworms in sweetpotato production systems across the eastern coastal plain of the Carolinas and Virginia. Results will help improve management recommendations for multiple states.
An objective of our project is to identify new pheromone compounds from live unmated pestiferous click beetle females. A second objective is to field screen possible pheromone compounds to determine which chemicals or blends are attractive to pestiferous click beetle species.
Brown stink bug, Euschistus servus, is the costliest and most problematic insect pest of corn in the southeastern US, and a major pest of soybean and cotton across the southeastern US and Midsouth. Our objectives are to 1. Measure stink bug populations in suitable host crops during the autumn where corn will be planted during the spring 2. Characterize overwintering habitats based on the categorization of host plants or forest structure 3. Measure brown stink bug colonization into spring corn adjacent to non-crop overwintering habitats and annual crops. 4. Estimate stink bug injury in focal corn fields 5. Assess corn yields relative to stink bug density and landscape features 6. Identify landscapes at risk for infestation by brown stink bug and create a risk map for the southeastern US 7. Document baselines for management of brown stink bug in field crops and disseminate brown stink bug risk management recommendation to relevant stakeholders