Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) have been working together to study the potential of trajectories for monitoring insect movements since the late 1990s.
Jennifer Otani, Ross Weiss, Serge Trudel, Tamara Rounce, Erl Svendsen, Shelley Barkley, Kelly Turkington, Owen Olfert and Meghan Vankosky
Scouting for insect pests in field crops needs to step up a notch now across the prairies. Several of the economic pests Canadian growers contend with are now developing into the more damaging stages of their lifecycles.
This week’s Insect of the Week feature crops are peas and faba beans, two important Prairie pulse crops. Our feature entomologist this week is Shelley Barkley (Alberta Agriculture and Forestry).
Peas and faba beans are relative newcomers to Prairie large-scale agriculture. Up until the 70s, a typical crop rotation may have been some combination of cereal and summer fallow. Dr. Al Slinkard was hired by the University of Saskatchewan-Crop Development Centre (CDC) in 1972 as a pulse breeder, starting a major transformation of Prairie agriculture. First came dry peas and lentils followed by many other pulse crops. Now there is a team of four pulse breeders at the CDC to carry on Dr. Slinkard’s legacy. And of course, let’s not forgot about the many federal, provincial, university and private industry Prairie pulse breeders that have come along since the 70s.
In 2019, dry peas were grown on 1.7 million hectares (4.3 million acres) on the Prairies, yielding 4.2 million tonnes (4.6 million US tons). Faba beans were grown (37,300 hectares / 92,100 acres) and yielded 107,000 tonnes (118,000 US tons).
Name: Shelley Barkley Affiliation: Alberta Agriculture and Forestry Contact Information: firstname.lastname@example.org, @Megarhyssa
How do you contribute in insect monitoring or surveillance on the Prairies?
I am managing the insect monitoring and surveillance program for Alberta Agriculture and Forestry in 2020.
In your opinion, what is the most interesting field crop pest on the Prairies?
It is not a field crop pest, but lily leaf beetle tops my list. So stunningly beautiful, but so devastating to lilies. I am in a war to bring these animals to a tolerable level in my lily bed without having to resort to removing the lilies.
Of the field crop pests, I think bertha armyworm is very interesting, especially how it has capitalized on the introduction of canola. Bertha armyworm have taught me population dynamics, and shown me biocontrol at work in the field. You can read that stuff in a text book, but once you see it in real life you have a new appreciation for nature…and science fiction movies.
What is your favourite beneficial insect?
Ambush bugs are my favourite. I think this species was a model for dragons on Game of Thrones and other works of dragon fiction. All the bumps and lumps on its head and thorax. And those front legs…if only I could have guns like that!
Tell us about an important project you are working on right now.
Delivering insect survey results to the agriculture industry in AB in a timely fashion is my most important current project. I am supporting the industry to the best of my ability.
What tools, platforms, etc. do you use to communicate with your stakeholders?
Twitter, and email are my go to. I also enjoy sharing my photography.