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OSCII Theme C: Crop Pests

Innovation in sustainable pest management strategies

Weeds, insects and diseases are an on-going challenge for all producers. In organic agriculture, adoption of cultural controls is favoured to reduce risks associated with pesticides. However, in some cases pesticides are one of the few options for managing pests in an economical way or for maintaining food safety. This Theme seeks innovative solutions that are suitable for dealing with pests under organic management. Many of these solutions can also be adopted by non-organic producers, and this crossover has been widely recognized, be it the use of mechanical weed control or biological controls.

Diseases are a major problem in fruits and vegetables, affecting productivity, marketability and storage life. Activities relating to disease management are seeking novel means of managing diseases in high value organic crops.  Specifically, the research Activities will explore:

  • Breeding and management to promote resistance to disease in strawberries through silica uptake (Activity C.22).
  • Use of plant defense elicitors to promote resistance to apple scab integrated with orchard floor management practices (Activity C.21).
  • Seed disinfection strategies for the rapidly growing sprout industry (Activity C.24).
  • UV therapy for increasing storage and shelf life of fruits and vegetables (Activity C.23).

Insects can be prolific problems originating from sources both on and off of the farm. In many cases, insects are a serious barrier to the introduction of new crop options. Activities in this theme will target pests on important and emerging organic crops with low risk solutions:

  • Evaluating essential oils as a low risk alternative for protection from blueberry insect pests (Activity C.27).
  • Protecting Canada’s export reputation by managing storage pests in grains (Activity C.25).
  • Controlling caterpillar pests in cruciferous crops by developing biopesticides (Activity C.30).

Weeds have been the bane of farmers since agriculture began. Resistance of weeds to modern herbicides has become an increasing risk and problem in conventional and no-till production systems. Organic farmers cannot use synthetic herbicides, and few organically approved herbicides are registered or economically viable for large scale commercial production. As such, improved options for weed management are required in both field crops and horticultural crops, with research activities focused on:

  • Refining mechanical weeding strategies for high value field crops such as lentils and peas (Activity C.32) and flax (Activity C.33).
  • Optimizing irrigation of cranberry fields to reduce weed pressures (Activity C.36).
  • Making available effective and environmentally responsible biological herbicides by providing high-quality data on efficacy and crop safety of biological and lower-risk herbicides to support minor-use submissions to the PMRA (Activity C.37).
  • Biofumigation strategies for reducing weed seed banks in the soil (Activity C.38).

Activities in Theme C

  • Activity C.21: Development of organic control strategies for apple scab
  • Activity C.22: Toward organic production of strawberry through exploitation of its natural genetic ability to absorb silicon
  • Activity C.23: Development of postharvest UV light therapy technology for extended preservation of fresh organic fruits and vegetables
  • Activity C.24: Development of validated seed disinfection strategies for the organic production of sprouted vegetables
  • Activity C.25: Organic integrated pest management for grain storage and processing facilities
  • Activity C.27: Evaluation of plant essential oils for protection against blueberry insect pests
  • Activity C.30: Development of integrated pest management strategies for new viral biopesticides in organic crops
  • Activity C.32: Integrating weed control for organic pea and lentil production
  • Activity C.33: Novel cultural and mechanical weed control for flax
  • Activity C.36: Effect of irrigation regimes on weed control in organic cranberry production
  • Activity C.37: New innovative weed management for organic crops
  • Activity C.38: Understanding and integration of novel technique to promote depletion of the weed seed bank: How biofumigation acts on different kind of seed dormancy and weed ecology