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By Sarah CatoU of A System Division of AgricultureJuly 24, 2018
(744 words)(Newsrooms: With additional art at https://flic.kr/s/aHskBTygwT)(Download this story in MS Word format here.)
LONOKE, Ark. – As rice begins to head in Arkansas many producers are checking fields
for rice stink bug, but their sampling technique could be costing them money.
While working on an improved treatment threshold – which indicates the density of
insects per square foot -- for rice stink bug, Aaron Cato, PhD entomology candidate
at the University of Arkansas came to the realization that past researchers and the
public haven’t been on the same page when it comes to sweeping techniques.
Rice stink bug is a problem because it feeds on rice kernels causing direct yield
loss, and can also cause a quality loss called peck.
Rice stink bug research bases its treatment thresholds on insects captured during
180-degree sweeps, meaning the sampler swings the sampling net a half-circle from
right to left, rotating at the waist.
These elaborate sweeps are physically tiring and not ideal for consultants covering
a multitude of acres. Also, new cultivars of rice make the field dense with larger
plants and that density means a scout will have to put more oomph into each arc.
“Previous research has used a complete 180-degree sweep to base thresholds on,” Cato
said. “But with the high-yielding rice we have today, especially hybrid rice with
increased tillering, if you try to walk at a decent pace while sweeping that wide,
you’re going to stumble. No one in Arkansas that we’ve talked to follows that method,
so everyone’s working with samples smaller than what we base our thresholds on.”
Looking at what will work
Thus began a study to find a sweep that was less taxing, but still wide enough to
get an accurate sample. It’s information that Gus Lorenz, Extension Entomologist and
Associate Department head of Entomology and Plant Pathology for the University of
Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, says could mean money in the bank for Arkansas’
rice growers. Lorenz is also Cato’s major PhD advisor.
“Aaron is refining decision-making for rice stink bug control in Arkansas,” Lorenz
said. “His research could save Arkansas growers literally millions of dollars by saving
unnecessary insecticide applications, while still maintaining yield and quality.”
However, sweeper variability plays a big role in whether or not Cato’s recommendations
will translate to the samples being taken by the public.
“By reducing sweeper variability we can be sure we’re comparing apples to apples,
not apples to oranges,” Lorenz said.
Trying a trio of techniques
Cato’s work tested three separate sweeping techniques and compared the results.
“We looked at 6-foot sweeps and 3-foot sweeps and compared them to the 180-degree
sweeps,” Cato said. “We found that the 6-foot sweeps are very accurate in the amount
of stink bugs you’re going to catch. So you can still do a set of 10 samples of 6-foot
sweeps, and get an accurate depiction of how many stinkbugs are across the field.”
Sticking with a 6-foot sweep length can keep samples accurate, but not at the expense
of a sampler’s energy level. Cato also recommends keeping other factors in mind.
“When you’re sweeping be sure you’re taking at least one step, maybe multiple, at
a good pace so you’re not sweeping the same area twice,” Cato said. “If you’re hitting
rice that’s just moved from your last sweep you’re going to be taking a bad sample.”
“You want to be sure the hoop of the sweep net encompasses the center point of the
rice heads,” Cato said. “If you’re too low and you’re hitting under the rice heads,
you’re going to launch the stink bugs off of it. If you’re too high you’re going to
knock them down into the water. No matter if it’s too high or too low, you’re not
going to catch everything that’s there and you’re going to take a bad sample.”
“You want your net to be angled back a little bit so that when it does hit the rice,
the rice kind of tips over into it and the stinkbugs will fall into the net,” Cato
said. “If you do it straight up and down it’s possible they’re falling out. If it’s
angled downward you’re going to be knocking stinkbugs into the water.”
For more information on pest control in rice contact your local county agent or visit www.uaex.uada.edu.
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen
agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption
of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative
Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work
within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas
System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension
and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex,
gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital
or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and
is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
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Media Contact: Ryan McGeeneyCommunication ServicesU of A System Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service(501) firstname.lastname@example.org