Insects taking over the world?!

Flat 10

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Fen Edge
Now I like to think I'm quite an enlightened chap (ok maybe not that enlightened) but I try very hard to minimise my insecticide usage, I adopt a decent rotation and try to avoid too much recreational tillage. Anyway its hardly ground breaking but I think its a small step in the right direction. However there's a big but. Insects seem to be an increasing problem not one that's getting better.
OSR- basically destroyed by CSFB larvae. Scratch tilled into a field that had had no insecticides for 4 years. No OSR on farm for 5 years. No OSR on adjacent farms for 2. Did apply 1 pyrethroid when the small osr was really struggling, probably shouldn't have bothered. Pollen beetle doing a lot of damage during the extended flowering, (more like a spring osr crop) but not sprayed. Anticipate a yield of 15cwt ish. Not sure I can grow next year.
Linseed- Lost a crop last spring to FFB despite spraying once. Drilled some in a multi species cover this spring in an area well away from any previous crops and thats made zero difference, its all been eaten by FFB. Same with the kale and osr in the mix due to CSFB.
Beet- Struggled due to BeetFB. Didn't spray. Have been scared into applying aphidicide at threshold due to Virus Yellows risk. If BFB population increases at the rate CSFB and FFB have post neonics I can see I won't be able to grow sugarbeet.
Beans- Never seen so much weevil notching as this year. Didn't spray. Then got mullered by thrips- did spray as know insecticide works and nearly lost a crop before. Crop lousy with Bruchids- won't spray. Some patches of Black bean aphids. Don't want to spray but may have to if the population explodes. Also think we have some land infected with nematodes.
Barley- Didn't use deter this autumn as knew we were only 12 months away from no choice. Sprayed late sep barley once as could find significant numbers of aphids and were over HGCA calculator even though i don't like doing it. Clearly should have followed up again in mild autumn as agronomist recommended as have big patches of BYDV.
Wheat- Grow mainly OBM resistant varieties as one less thing to worry about. Significant damage last year even in these but worst of all was Lemon blossom midge that cost us probably 1t/ha. Nothing you can do to control really but fudging annoying and often mentioned in books as 'minor' pest or of no significant economic effect.
So when i come on here and read that its all my fault and everything will come back into balance I have serious doubts!
Anybody else have similar experiences or am I the only one/doing something wrong.
 
I like my rough grass field margins / odd corners, but don't have anything resembling an acceptably diverse rotation. 100% white straw cropping.

The hotter and drier your climate, the more likely some pest insect population explosion will overwhelm you. Locust plagues being the apex of this possibly.

Nobody likes spraying insecticide but i frequently enough spray 30 or 50 ml of generic hallmark, and i don't think it devastates higher insects. rather i don't see that it does. If i have to spray for blossom midge i will, and i think spraying either side of 10pm helps.

If you are using hallmark, pre-treat hard water with Chek / X-Change etc. If water is soft use a bit of mineral acid to take pH below 6. more bang for your a.i.
By inference, don't expect a lot from hallmark tank-mixed with 5 kg of mag sulphate etc etc.IMO

Just anecdotes no answers sorry.
 

rob1

Member
Location
wiltshire
I blame someone in Africa for netted all the insect eating swallows and house martins.... We are down from 8-10 pairs of house martins last year to zero and only 1 pair of swallows down from 5 or 6 pair last year.
That certainly isnt helping but dont think they would clear them all especially in big open spaces. We have to hope that the beneficials will explode and help
 
If you are involved in growing a monoculture then whether you use insecticides or not is a moot point. Do you chaps honestly believe by not using insecticides it makes up for completely removing the vegetation in a field each year, cultivating it and replacing that vegetation with another complete monoculture? If the beneficial species you are intent on preserving arent obliterated by your vaddy carrier or the seed drill or the cambridge rollers what are they eating considering there isnt anything green in the field for over 3 months?

The complete anti-insecticide logic baffles me, some herbicides and fungicides are known to be harmful to arthropods as well. Are we avoiding the use of them as well?
 

rob1

Member
Location
wiltshire
If you are involved in growing a monoculture then whether you use insecticides or not is a moot point. Do you chaps honestly believe by not using insecticides it makes up for completely removing the vegetation in a field each year, cultivating it and replacing that vegetation with another complete monoculture? If the beneficial species you are intent on preserving arent obliterated by your vaddy carrier or the seed drill or the cambridge rollers what are they eating considering there isnt anything green in the field for over 3 months?

The complete anti-insecticide logic baffles me, some herbicides and fungicides are known to be harmful to arthropods as well. Are we avoiding the use of them as well?
we are floundering around trying to find a way forward in a world full of misinformation
 
we are floundering around trying to find a way forward in a world full of misinformation

I think too much pub talk is taken as more than pub talk. It belongs in the pub where it is worth as much as a good pint and no more.

If there are farms who never spray for aphid and never get BYDV that is ace for them but to claim anyone using insecticide is a puppet of chemical companies or being shafted by their tommy two thumbs serviced agronomist is basically what constitutes the spreading of disinformation.
 

Flat 10

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Fen Edge
I like my rough grass field margins / odd corners, but don't have anything resembling an acceptably diverse rotation. 100% white straw cropping.

The hotter and drier your climate, the more likely some pest insect population explosion will overwhelm you. Locust plagues being the apex of this possibly.

Nobody likes spraying insecticide but i frequently enough spray 30 or 50 ml of generic hallmark, and i don't think it devastates higher insects. rather i don't see that it does. If i have to spray for blossom midge i will, and i think spraying either side of 10pm helps.

If you are using hallmark, pre-treat hard water with Chek / X-Change etc. If water is soft use a bit of mineral acid to take pH below 6. more bang for your a.i.
By inference, don't expect a lot from hallmark tank-mixed with 5 kg of mag sulphate etc etc.IMO

Just anecdotes no answers sorry.
Interesting. Why no crops other than white straw? Against the general trend of the moment. What are your reasons?
 
A couple weeks of hard frost in winter would reduce many insects
The last 15 year only had s couple that could be classed as cold enough
In the 1970s 1980s most winter we’re colder

Flea bottle now worse than ever before

Beneficial as will help when numbers of pests are low
When numbers get epidemic then spraying would help
Except when many insects have built up insecticide resistance due to repeated insurance spraying because the stuf is under £1 an acre That is why seed dressing targeted against the pest that eats the crop and not the whole field was so effective

4 out of 5 Tested fleabeetle samples were susceptible to inscecticide
The trouble is there are so many that after one spray they just reinvade

What is needed is an effective bg killer in cereals and then we could go back to 3 cereals and a beak crop rotation half the area of rape or go Back to a rotation with half grass
 

Clive

Staff Member
NFFN Member
Location
Lichfield
my experience is simply the less I use them the less I seem to need them, no idea why but its just what I have found here in my situation

I'm not sure its as simple as just beneficials however, it's more likely a complex combination of cropping and cover crop diversity and soil health, plant nutrition and many other factors as not yet understood

Last week I listened to a really interesting podcast about electro magnetic fields emitted by plants that aphids are sensitive to and how these change in relation to soil health etc - really interesting stuff, there is certainly a lot more going on that we currently understand
 

Brisel

Member
NFFN Member
Location
Midlands
Now I like to think I'm quite an enlightened chap (ok maybe not that enlightened) but I try very hard to minimise my insecticide usage, I adopt a decent rotation and try to avoid too much recreational tillage. Anyway its hardly ground breaking but I think its a small step in the right direction. However there's a big but. Insects seem to be an increasing problem not one that's getting better.
OSR- basically destroyed by CSFB larvae. Scratch tilled into a field that had had no insecticides for 4 years. No OSR on farm for 5 years. No OSR on adjacent farms for 2. Did apply 1 pyrethroid when the small osr was really struggling, probably shouldn't have bothered. Pollen beetle doing a lot of damage during the extended flowering, (more like a spring osr crop) but not sprayed. Anticipate a yield of 15cwt ish. Not sure I can grow next year.
Linseed- Lost a crop last spring to FFB despite spraying once. Drilled some in a multi species cover this spring in an area well away from any previous crops and thats made zero difference, its all been eaten by FFB. Same with the kale and osr in the mix due to CSFB.
Beet- Struggled due to BeetFB. Didn't spray. Have been scared into applying aphidicide at threshold due to Virus Yellows risk. If BFB population increases at the rate CSFB and FFB have post neonics I can see I won't be able to grow sugarbeet.
Beans- Never seen so much weevil notching as this year. Didn't spray. Then got mullered by thrips- did spray as know insecticide works and nearly lost a crop before. Crop lousy with Bruchids- won't spray. Some patches of Black bean aphids. Don't want to spray but may have to if the population explodes. Also think we have some land infected with nematodes.
Barley- Didn't use deter this autumn as knew we were only 12 months away from no choice. Sprayed late sep barley once as could find significant numbers of aphids and were over HGCA calculator even though i don't like doing it. Clearly should have followed up again in mild autumn as agronomist recommended as have big patches of BYDV.
Wheat- Grow mainly OBM resistant varieties as one less thing to worry about. Significant damage last year even in these but worst of all was Lemon blossom midge that cost us probably 1t/ha. Nothing you can do to control really but fudging annoying and often mentioned in books as 'minor' pest or of no significant economic effect.
So when i come on here and read that its all my fault and everything will come back into balance I have serious doubts!
Anybody else have similar experiences or am I the only one/doing something wrong.

Good topic (y)

I feel your pain. I hate trying to the right thing then get kicked in the teeth by pest numbers that the beneficials can't keep up with. CSFB was the first pest I had to spray for in over 5 years of beetle banks, field margins, nectar flower plots etc. Here's my version;

Summer pests like aphids & pollen beetle are the ones we could tolerate the most. The beneficials will work hardest here. The same cannot be said for the autumn ones like CSFB and BYDV carrying aphids (Bird cherry and grain). CSFB ate my emerging osr crop right next to beetle banks that hadn't seen a spray since they were formed 7-10 years ago. IMO part of the problem here is the flying pests that land in your fields
You don't get an anti virus without a virus. You don't get a predator without prey. All you can really do is create as much habitat for your predators and hope your prey breed up slowly enough that the predators can keep up. The first appearance of the pest is where the beneficials can have the greatest effect. I you're going to grow linseed, sow wild flowers that flower when your linseed emerges. Do the same for flowering plants in August so you have predators in your field margins when you sow your osr. You get the idea.

If you do have to treat, manage your water. As @John Slejpner rightly said, condition hard water so you get 100% of your insecticide not 50% with the rest locked up by dissolved cations in hard alkaline water. Use wetters and finer quality nozzles. You're hitting small targets so you need small droplets. You can't expect this to kill a small bug unless it smacks it directly on the head!
 

Flat 10

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Fen Edge
my experience is simply the less I use them the less I seem to need them, no idea why but its just what I have found here in my situation

I'm not sure its as simple as just beneficials however, it's more likely a complex combination of cropping and cover crop diversity and soil health, plant nutrition and many other factors as not yet understood

Last week I listened to a really interesting podcast about electro magnetic fields emitted by plants that aphids are sensitive to and how these change in relation to soil health etc - really interesting stuff, there is certainly a lot more going on that we currently understand
It has obviously worked for you, But I hope you see that I'm trying to do the 'right' thing but its not working so far...
Ps I have muck heaps too ;)
 

Lowland1

Member
Mixed Farmer
We are growing vegetables and as such are scouting the crops regularly. We have found that in most cases your pest numbers will rise up to a point when you are just about ready to spray when all of a sudden they dip as the beneficials start to work. The problem is holding your nerve long enough for this to happen. If you are too quick to spray you will wipe out the good insects but there are so many other factors to consider such as what stress the crop is under. In good growing conditions the crop will grow away from any insect pressure but if under stress the insects will cause a lot of damage. My Dads rape was destroyed this year mainly because I don't think it was drilled well and as such could not get away from the beetles. We have made an effort to avoid knockdown sprays and use target specific chemicals but when your supermarket customers are shouting about aphids there is a lot pressure to use a rapid knockdown chemical which I think in the long term is counterproductive. We are learning a lot about insect life cycles and likes and dislikes but you have to have joined up thinking whatever you do will be useless if your neighbour allows things to get out control as these things are very mobile.
 

Bogweevil

Member
Never mind about aphids, pollen and flea beetles, they are natives and will be checked by natural processes to at least some extent. What about the invasive alien insects - only a problem for horticulture at the moment (fruit - spotted wing drosophila; onions/leeks - allium leaf miner and leek moth ) but farmings turn will come especially with climate change making conditions more suitable for Colorado beetle and western corn rootworm.
 

NewFarm

Member
Cl
my experience is simply the less I use them the less I seem to need them, no idea why but its just what I have found here in my situation

I'm not sure its as simple as just beneficials however, it's more likely a complex combination of cropping and cover crop diversity and soil health, plant nutrition and many other factors as not yet understood

Last week I listened to a really interesting podcast about electro magnetic fields emitted by plants that aphids are sensitive to and how these change in relation to soil health etc - really interesting stuff, there is certainly a lot more going on that we currently understand

Clive, can you link details on EM fields / plants? I'm sceptical, but always interested in research in these areas.
 

Clive

Staff Member
NFFN Member
Location
Lichfield
Cl


Clive, can you link details on EM fields / plants? I'm sceptical, but always interested in research in these areas.

There will be an article in issue 6 direct driller about it

I wi try and find the link to the podcast interview, i came across it on twitter
 

Clive

Staff Member
NFFN Member
Location
Lichfield
It has obviously worked for you, But I hope you see that I'm trying to do the 'right' thing but its not working so far...
Ps I have muck heaps too ;)

Every farm and every situation is different, certainly no “one size fits all” in farming that’s for sure
 

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Man fined £300 for bonfire-related waste offences

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Written by William Kellett from Agriland

court-640x360.jpg
A man has pleaded guilty at Newtownards Magistrates’ Court to waste offences relating to a bonfire next to the electrical sub-station on the Circular Road in Newtownards, Co. Down.

Gareth Gill (51) of Abbot’s Walk, Newtownards pleaded guilty to two charges under the Waste and Contaminated Land (Northern Ireland) Order 1997, for which he was fined £150 each and ordered to pay a £15 offender’s levy

On June 25, 2018, PSNI officers went to Gill’s yard, where they found a large amount of waste consisting of scrap wood, pallets, carpet and underlay.

Discussion with Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) officers confirmed the site...
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