The primary purpose of crop production on the DeMilia Research Farm is for plant pest model data collection and experimentation. DemiAg Expert System for Agricultural Pest Management is a web based computer system being developed to provide agricultural researchers, farmers, and home gardeners with forecasts for plant diseases and eventually other plant pests. As insect and weed observations are made in field experiments, results for each will be summarized here.
After more than a year of preparation, 2014 was our first full growing season and we only tested untreated controls. For the 2015 growing season, we focused on crop production techniques and only a few pesticide applications were made. For the 2016 growing season, procedures and practices are being developed for use in future plant disease studies including the evaluation of synthetic vs. organic insecticide treatments. Our goal is to use the least toxic treatment for insect control as possible to obtain acceptable levels of crop damage. In contrast to experiments in future years, treatment regiments have not been pre-defined and are being determined on an as needed basis. Some crops may not require any insecticide treatment at all. We are also trying to establish when we really need to use herbicides versus when weeds can be controlled entirely by cultural practices and cultivation. In 2017, we will be continuing these efforts and collecting data on the natural levels of plant diseases on the farm for the purpose of establishing future experimental protocols. In 2018, we will begin evaluating fungicides and organic plant disease treatments.
Coming soon. Synthetic vs. organic insecticide treatments summaries made during the 2016 growing season.