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Iowa Soybean board takes review

By Staff | Aug 7, 2009

Wayne Fredericks, of Osage, a member of the Iowa Soybean Association board of directors, counts the number of aphids and beneficial insects on a soybean plant, during an exercise to teach ISA directors how to “speed scout” their fields.

BOONE – All research needs funding, and once-in-a-while, those who provide the money must get an accounting from those handling the projects.

Last week the Iowa Soybean Association board members toured the Iowa State University research farm near Boone to show the board members the results of some of their projects ISA has been funding.

Typically, the research update is done in a conference room with PowerPoint presentations, said Dr. David Wright, director of contract research for the ISA.

But this year, the meeting was scheduled for in the same fields where the projects were being held, giving ISA directors a first-hand look at the work and to meet the researchers in the field. “It’s different seeing it all in person than through a power point, Wright said.

One of the hands-on examples is handing each director and researcher a round plastic case with soybean leaves and tine parasitoid wasps live inside.

The study with these tiny wasps, no bigger than a gnat, researcher Erin Hughes explained, is an attempt to see the effectiveness of using them as a natural control over aphids rather than spraying pesticides.

Soybean entomologist Matt O’Neal explained that all insects, both beneficial and harmful, die when pesticides are sprayed. Studies are showing, he added, that aphid populations will actually recover faster than the beneficial insects that are killed by spraying, so research is underway to find natural predators to the aphids.

The parasitoid wasps, said ISA’s Wright, are from China where most of the aphids investing the Midwest migrated several years ago. Unfortunately, he said, researchers are finding this particular wasp doesn’t tolerate Midwest winters well. “So they are looking for other wasps that are adapted to northern winters and others for southern winters to make them region specific.

“We think this, in conjunction with using aphid-resistant soybean varieties will provide us with some excellent controls.”

Researchers Hughes and O’Neal taught ISA board members a method for “speed-scouting” their fields for aphids. ISA directors AJ Blair, of Dayton, and Wayne Fredericks, of Osage, determined that the test plot they were examining determined that it has enough aphids to be border-line at treatment numbers.

Other stations directors visited included Allison Robertson, discussing the affects of phytothera, a soil-bourne fungus that causes sudden death syndrome in soybeans. She also showed how some varieties of soybeans show strong resistance to the fungus.

Others stops included research showing how weeds are developing a tolerance for chemicals and the results of various fertilizer application trials.

Contact Larry Kershner at (515) 573-2141, Ext. 453, or by e-mail at kersh@farm-news.com

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