January 18, 2022

As-needed pesticide use beneficial to environment

Fewer pesticides means healthier bees, increased watermelon yield, study shows

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Using pesticides as-needed boosted pollination from wild bees and increased watermelon yields, according to a proof-of-concept study from Purdue University.

A multiyear study of commercial-scale fields in the Midwest found an integrated pest management approach led to a 95% reduction in pesticide applications, while maintaining or increasing crop yield for corn and watermelon.

“An as-needed approach to pesticide treatment can benefit farmers,” said Ian Kaplan, professor of entomology at Purdue, who led the project.

“With reduced pesticide use, we saw within the first year wild bees returned to the fields, and our findings showed an average 26% increase in watermelon yield.”

The findings are detailed in a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“These data demonstrate that food production and ecosystem sustainability are not necessarily conflicting goals,” the study states.

Up next, the team plans to scale up the study with 50-acre commercial fields.

View the complete study at tinyurl.com/hjhwu9kr.

Erica Quinlan

Erica Quinlan

Field Editor