Shelby Varner
K-State Research and Extension
Kansas State University entomologist Anthony Zukoff said a naturally occurring nematode might help solve a variety of corn rootworm resistance issues in farmer’s fields.
He and other researchers are seeking help from corn producers in Kansas to participate in a study that is now more than 10 years old. The study looks at nematodes that can control corn rootworms.
“These nematodes that are being used for rootworm control are obligate parasites of insects, so they are seeking out and attacking only insects,” Zukoff said. “They’re not causing any problems to plants.”
Across the U.S. Corn Belt, rootworms have become resistant to traditional controls for larvae below ground, and adults above ground.
“There’s even rootworm populations that are resistant to rotation practices, so there are quite a few challenges to controlling rootworms,” Zukoff said, noting that genetic modifications, such as Bt technologies are effective at controlling rootworms in some corn-growing regions.
Zukoff said the nematodes being studied seek out a multitude of species in the soil, which allows them to persist in the environment over a long period of time.
“(Researchers) have found that these nematodes can be applied directly through a pivot (sprinkler),” Zukoff said, noting that is the current recommendation for western Kansas producers.
He added that the results, so far, are very positive. “These nematodes will be able to kill rootworm larvae that are not succumbing to Bt toxins below ground,” Zukoff said.
For information on how to participate in current studies, contact Zukoff at 620-295-9164 or [email protected]