A grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will help researchers at Purdue University study the effects of a specific type of pesticide. The five-year, $3.6 million grant is part of the USDA-NIFA Specialty Crop Research Initiative.
Purdue entomologist Ian Kaplan will lead a team of researchers from Purdue as well as Ohio State University, Michigan State University, the University of New Hampshire and Clark University to examine the environmental, ecological and socioeconomic effects of neonicotinoid pesticides. Purdue says the goal is examine the use of the pesticides on melons and pumpkins to try and find a suitable pest control system that protects beneficial insects, such as honeybees.
"Indiana is a major producer of melons and this research is designed to help growers make informed decisions about insect management on their farms for both pests and beneficial species," said Kaplan. "Neonicotinoids are used widely across many specialty crops that share a reliance on bees as pollinators. We anticipate that the research will also be informative to these other fruit and vegetable systems where similar tradeoffs between pest control and pollination may occur."
Purdue says part of the research will examine growers’ pest management practices and their relationship to bees’ pesticide exposure levels. Researchers from other universities will also study the social and economic factors that play into the decision-making process for pest management strategies and their economic results.