Field Crops Entomology Program
Michigan State University
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Managing corn rootworm resistance to Bt:
nine corn entomologists in the eastern U.S. recommend CROP ROTATION
You may have read or heard about the recent discovery of rootworm resistance to Bt corn in Iowa and Minnesota. At the annual meeting of corn entomologists, EPA, and registrants at the end of January, rootworm resistance was a major topic. After listening to the experiences of entomologists from the 'Focus' area of resistance in western and central U.S., and hearing the response and recommendations from Monsanto and other companies, nine entomologists from universities in the eastern corn belt (Purdue, MSU, Ohio State, Penn State, Cornell, University of Guelph) worked as a team to develop a recommendation for our states. Our consensus recommendation for the 'Fringe' of the Corn Belt differs from the response to rootworm resistance in the west because it is stricter and involves only one action when resistance is suspected: CROP ROTATION. Our goal is to preserve the usefulness of Cry3Bb1 and other rootworm Bts for you and your customers for as long as possible. For more discussion about Cry3Bb1 resistance, and an explanation for the recommendation we've adopted, click here.
MSU Study Abroad Course on Tropical Agriculture
I spent four weeks in May with 14 MSU students visiting Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon), a tropical island nation in the Indian Ocean. Sri Lanka was recently rated as one of the top travel destinations by National Geographic and several other groups. It is a country with a high diversity of plants and animals, ancient Buddhist historic sites, and a diverse agricultural base.
Sri Lanka is most known for tea production (ie Ceylon brand tea); something like 4% of the country's GDP is tied to tea. Tea plantations cover a large acreage in the mountains, and some of the plantings are up to 80 years old (although 25-30 years is more typical). Black tea is produced by harvesting the uppermost new growth of the plant, and subjecting the leaves to a complicated process of drying, rolling, and fermentation. Sri Lanka is the only tea producing country with 100% hand-harvested versus machine-harvested. This leads to outstanding quality, since the pluckers (all women) can select only leaf and avoid stems and other debris, but the cost of labor is thus high - especially since plants are plucked every week or two, year-round.
Above: Hillside covered with tea. Below: Pluckers at work and a traditional harvesting basket
Rice (left) is the staple crop in Sri Lanka, and the country is self-sufficient in production. Irrigation is accomplished through a series of man-made lakes (called tanks), sluices, and canals. Most of these structures were created by ancient kings 1500 years ago, and many are still in use today. When rice is not being grown, grain and vegetable crops are produced. I saw this soybean field (right) in northern part of the country. Looking at an individual plant, you could mistake the picture for Michigan - until you see the treeline in the back is papaya.
Going to a Sri Lankan market is much more colorful than shopping at Meijers. The diversity of produce is amazing. Just in the picture on the left, there is potato, carrots, peppers, beets, brinjal, bitter gourd, and banana flower. Meat, especially beef, consumption is much less than in the U.S. Not only is meat costly, but there are religious (Hindi and Buddhist) constraints to killing animals. Chicken and fish are the most common meats we saw. This fish seller in the central part of the country (left) not only has locally-produced freshwater tilapia, but tuna (slabs), squid (metal tray) and manta ray (cut up chunks) from the ocean.