We have been dealing with the effects of pesticide resistance in agriculture for many years now. In fact, the first case of herbicide resistance in Ontario dates back 65 years to 1957. While this is certainly not a new problem, resistance management has been thrust back into the spotlight in recent times due to the proliferation of both weed and insect resistance to standard practices. This increasing resistance is also being complicated by changes in our weather patterns.
We know that weeds and insects are constantly evolving, so too must our defense against them. Unfortunately, the pace of development of new chemistry has been far surpassed by the rate of resistance development. Even if you had good success with pest management last season, you cannot assume that the coming season will be the same.
Talking to neighbours, and industry personnel can give you insight into hard to manage species that might be in your area, or soon on their way. The following are just a few of the strategies that should be applied to both combat the advancement of resistant pests, as well as delay the evolution of new ones.
· Strategic Tillage
· Site-Specific weed management
· Herbicide Group Rotation (not just product)
· Multiple Effective Modes of Action
· Crop Rotation
· Utilization of Cover Crops
· Regular field scouting
· Accurate record-keeping
A multi-faceted approach to pest management is your best defense. Incorporating as many of the tools above into your operation provides the best chance for success in the ever-changing fight for clean crops.
It is important to note that resistance does not only apply to herbicides and insecticides. Fungicides can also be rendered ineffective due to resistance. For all pesticides, it is important to rotate modes of action, and ensure product suitability for the target pest. This cannot happen without robust field scouting. Because the life-cycles of many crop diseases are often much shorter than the life-cycle of weeds or insects, fungicide resistance has the ability to develop extremely quickly. Extra care should be taken to preserve the efficacy of the products that we currently have, to ensure their usefulness long-term.