Dr. Héctor Cárcamo is a senior research scientist at the Lethbridge Research and Development Center in Alberta which is part of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Hector’s work focuses on developing integrated pest management strategies for insect pests in crops such as faba beans, field peas, canola, and some forage crops. He helps growers develop management strategies and looks for ways to reduce reliance on chemistry.
This episode focuses on two pulse crop pests in particular: lygus bugs and pea leaf weevils. We also talk more generally about biological control of insect pests including predators, parasites, and trap crops. Héctor shares that research suggests that some pests, if the populations are managed, can actually improve crop performance.
“If you have a few insect pests on the crop, you actually can stimulate the plant because we have seen a bit of a response where you have a few insects on the plant and you actually get more yield compared to a plant that has no insects at all.” - Dr. Héctor Cárcamo
An overpopulation of pests will of course affect yield but also and sometimes more importantly it will affect quality and flavor. Héctor suggests that pests are meant to be managed not eliminated. A part from the benefit of the plants being stimulated, some of these insects provide a link in the food chain for other species useful in providing biodiversity.
“My advice for growers in general is you have to be informed about the entomology, you know, the insects that are there and find out as much information as you can in terms of how you maximize the design of your farm.” -Dr. Héctor Cárcamo