Iowa Pest Resistance Management Plan
January 5, 2018



A group of entities has come together to combat resistance to pesticides, which is on the rise.

The Iowa Pest Resistance Management Plan (IPRMP) was created by the Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, along with several commodity groups, ag-professionals and farmers.

The IPRMP is an Iowa-specific plan to address pests - including seeds, insects and diseases - that can adapt and become resistant to chemical, genetic and agronomic control practices.

Dr. Evan Sivesind, program manager for IPRMP, provided an update about the plan during a recent webinar sponsored by Farm Bureau.

During the webinar, he also discussed what the agricultural community needs to do to help slow the process of pesticide resistance to diseases, weeds and insects.

"Pest resistance to chemical, genetic and agronomic management practices is widespread and an increasing problem in Iowa," said Sivesind. "The evolution of pest resistance to current management and technologies is occurring at a faster rate than what new technologies are being developed."

Unfortunately, Sivesind added that many resistance management practices are well-described and validated and adoption of these practices has been low.

According to information provided, the IPRMP outlines approaches for effective, integrated management solutions that will sustainably control pests. By fostering methods to detect resistance, resistance can be delayed or even prevented, limiting the spread of pest resistance.

"This project deems to bridge that gap between knowledge and adoption by engaging all sectors of Iowa agriculture utilizing a community based approach," he said. "A tactical imperative to dealing with mobile pests that cross field boundaries."

This, Sivesind said, hopes to be done by increasing adoption of pest resistance management practices - valuable pest management tools will be preserved, protecting farm productivity and profitability.

The framework of the IPRMP is developed by a task force that is made up of agricultural organizations across the state, including Farm Bureau, Iowa Corn, Iowa Soybean Association, cooperatives, ag retailers, crop advisors, producers and major technology providers.

Sivesind added the plan is completely voluntary, but he hopes it is accepted and used throughout the state.

"Voluntary adoption of resistance management practices help minimize the likelihood of further regulatory intervention, which we are trying to avoid as much as possible," he said.

Recently, the Environmental Protection Agency released two pesticide registration notices (PRNs) and these documents, Sivesind said, highlight the agency and public's concern to pesticide resistance development.

The two PRNs included prominent placement of mode of action codes on new pesticide labels that are new or undergoing review as well the use of scouting, rotating herbicides with different mechanisms of action, tank mixing of herbicides with different mechanisms of action, and recommendations for people to report lack of performance to the registrars who are expected to investigate these claims.

Sivesind said the PRNs are also encouraging users to seek out information regarding local herbicide-resistant population. They also contain recommendations for education, training and stewardship to be taken out by the registrants with the education materials containing resistance management plans as well as remedial action plans in the event of suspected resistance.

"Through the implementation of the IPRMP, Iowa will be line with the EPA's thinking and we will be ahead of the curve," he said, adding these documents also give an indication as to where the EPA is heading in regards to the development of resistance.

"So if we are able to, through the implementation of the Iowa Pest Resistance Management Plan, we would be on track with the goals with these pesticides registration notices in the context of local cropping systems in Iowa and we may be able to avoid implementation of further regulation," he said.

He went on to say one of the main principles of the IPRMP is that it is a community-based effort and involves the participation of not only the producers, but the entire agricultural sector.

This, he said, was also pointed out by the EPA in its PRNs.

"The EPA observed that a collaboration of growers, crop advisors, academia, federal and state regulators, registrants and others were important in developing and implementing herbicide resistant management strategies," he said, "which is exactly the strategy of the Iowa Pest Resistance Management Plan."

Goal of the IPRMP

Sivesind said the goal of this project is to preserve the viability of valuable pest management technologies that farmers rely upon in order to protect farm profitability for the long term.

"Successful pest resistance management efforts often need to be flexible and adaptive," he said. "There are differences between pest pressure, current management practices, constraints on management choices, environment, weather, differences between locations -indicate the need to consider each location separately and tailor efforts accordingly. In the end, we want it understood, this is not an academic issue. Resistance is here. It's currently causing problems and will only continue to get worse."

How does resistance develop and strategies to combat the issue

When considering pest resistance in Iowa, Sivesind said general themes that apply to each pest resistant issue are generally: resistance builds as a result of acute, repeated selection pressure over time and overall, the best way to reduce selection pressure is to diversify tactics as broadly as possible.

"When resistance is caught early, it is easy to remedy as more options are available and viable," he said. "Strategies for preventing resistance evolution include use of diverse combination of crop rotation, effective use of pesticides with the use of different sites of action. Using seed with stacked, native and biotechnology-derived traits that provide effective control of the target pests and the inclusion of mechanical and cultural tactics when appropriate."

Despite broad similarities, Sivesind said resistance management strategies will vary according to the type of insect, weed and pathogen, so other factors to consider is how widespread a particular resistance is across the state, the severity of pest pressure and the level of the mobility of the pests and the differences between management practices unique to each pest as well as geographic area and environment.

Scouting is a vital part of the pest resistance management process.

"Scouting both before and after applications is invaluable," he said. "Pre-application scouting is crucial in order to choose the appropriate control method as well as correctly timed applications. Post-application scouting is necessary in order to evaluate treatment efficacy. Search for signs of possible resistance development and prepare if further treatments are necessary."

There's no easy solution

"We need to ensure that it is accepted and understood there is not going to be any silver bullets," he said. "Technology providers have done a fantastic job in previous decades innovating new, effective products, whether it's pesticide, conventionally-bred crops, or genetically modified crops."

"However, solutions to the current and near future resistance issues are not just around the corner. If we wait for industry to innovate us out of this problem, we are going to be sorely disappointed."

Sivesind said success is possible by different people throughout the ag sector working together.

"It's important for us to acknowledge that, in some instances, there may be short-term increases of input costs, time or management complexity on effective resistance management practices that are implemented," he said. "In addition, communication outreach is key to this project. Clear, consistent messaging from all state cultivars is crucial to raising awareness and increasing understanding of pest resistance and the factors that contribute to its development."

He added certified crop advisors, independent crop consultants, ag retailers and others are all key to this effort.

"Preserving those valuable pest management technologies and maintaining profitability over the long term - partnering with organizations including commodity groups, co-ops - will utilize existing partnerships and networks to reach out to farmers and landowners about adopting resistance management practices on their farm," he said.

The website will be a central hub for news, progress, information, announcements and other relevant resistance management resources.

Pilot projects

"To encourage the adoption of pest resistant management practices, another key part of the plan is to develop a number of pilot projects being implemented across the state," he said.

The criteria they use to help in the selection of the pilot projects include: intensity of the pest pressure and impacts on farm productivity; how the pest is currently managed - if there are options available to manage or mitigate resistance - and if a community exists that can be tapped into.

The four pilot projects are being developed in various stages and pests, according to Sivesind.

Two of the projects are focused on insect resistance of the Western Corn Rootworm to BT traits (in northeastern and north central Iowa) and soybean aphid resistance to pyrethroids in northwest Iowa.

The other two projects are focused on weed resistant issues.

A study on herbicide resistant palmer amaranth is being conducted in Harrison County, where the first species of that weed was located. They are also looking at other herbicide resistant weeds in that area as well.

Herbicide resistant water hemp, marestail and giant ragweed are the subjects of the project being taken place in around Story County.

"Pesticide resistance is here and it is rapidly increasing," Sivesind said. "I don't want to be an alarmist, but I truly believe we are at a crucial junction where, if resistant management practices are adopted soon, we can significantly delay or maybe even prevent some of the most serious scenarios. However, if changes are not made to diversify management practices, there will come a time when the inability to control certain pests will force drastic changes in crop production practices."

He added success of the IPRMP project depends on the participation of farmers and agri-professionals that recognize the serious threat resistance poses.

Sivesind went on to say there are many ways in which people can participate, which includes involvement and discussions and providing insights to setting strategic direction and being involved in field trials and demonstrations.

"We would like to encourage anyone that is interested in getting involved with local efforts of the project in general and help to formulate solutions and slow the pesticide resistance to contact me," he said.

Sivesind can be reached at (515) 294-7990.


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