Monday, 18 June 2018

2018 Field Crop Student Assistants

Students are an important part of our research, especially during the summer months when field and laboratory work peaks at the Beaverlodge Research Farm.  Each summer, student assistants are hired using FSWEP1, COOP2, and RAP3 programs.  These job positions offer a unique opportunity for students to learn valuable on-the-job skills while supplementing the applied side of their scientific education.

The federal hiring programs used to staff our student assistant positions require that students be enrolled at a recognized post-secondary institution and that students carry a full-time course load both prior to and following their period of employment.  In fact, our research programs typically screen applicants by the end of December in order to offer positions to work at our Farm from May-August.

We’re pleased to have the following students join us to work and learn in the Agronomy & Crop AdaptationΨ, Integrated Forage Seed ManagementΦ, and Pest Management Programsπ for the 2018 growing season:

Back row (L to R): Nabeel Abdul-Basith enrolled at Mount Royal University, Maya Schmidt enrolled at the University of Alberta, Michael Theriault enrolled at Mount Royal University, Amanda Jorgensen enrolled at the University of Alberta,  and Shelby Dufton enrolled at the University of Lethbridge.

Front row (L to R): Marie McCallum enrolled at the University of British Columbia, Jacey Toerper enrolled at the Grande Prairie Regional College campus of the University of Alberta, Megan McElhinny enrolled at the University of British Columbia, Haley Brackenridge enrolled at Queens University, Rebecca Philip enrolled at Thompson River University, and Julia Kappeler enrolled at the Augustana Campus of the University of Alberta.

Absent from photo: Jeremy Poortvliet enrolled at University of the Fraser Valley.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Meet our students (2018) - Introducing Rebecca!

Hello! My name is Rebecca Philip and I have been working at AAFC-Beaverlodge since September 2017.  From September to the end of December 2017, I was working in the Pulse Breeding program based out of AAFC-Lacombe where I was responsible for carrying out cross pollination of pea flowers in an effort to develop new varieties of field peas.  I am excited to switch to the Insect Pest Management program and to learn about insect pests and some of the natural enemies found within field crops grown in the Peace River region.

I am currently enrolled in the  third year of the Natural Resource Science program at Thompson Rivers University, which is located in Kamloops BC. I have a strong love for the outdoors and working outside and I am lucky to have a job and a program that reflect this! Although I come from BC, this is not my first time living in Alberta. Most of my childhood was spent just north of Edmonton in the small town of Bon Accord.

So far, the first weeks in the IPM program have been focused on data entry for the 2017 CARP Flea Beetle project but I’ve also been processing wheat midge from samples collected during the growing season. We are retrieving wheat midge larvae from wheat heads threshed using a single-head thresher.  The data will quantify the density of wheat midge occurring in local wheat fields. In the near future, I will work on the Prairie Pest Monitoring Network’s Blog to archive and update information in preparation for the 2018 growing season.

Figure 1. Rebecca pinning and labelling carabid beetles.

Meet our students (2018) - Introducing Maya!

My name is Maya Schmidt and I’ve just begun my second summer working at the Beaverlodge Research Farm.It’s my first time working with the IPM program.

I’ve recently finished my first year of my Bachelor of Engineering at the University of Alberta. I am eager to learn tons this summer and have already had fascinating experiences in my first few weeks of the job.  In the last couple of weeks, we’ve been setting up flea beetle and diamondback moth traps located at various growers’ fields around the county. The flee beetle traps are a double sided yellow sticky card – the yellow colour of the card is what attracts the flea beetles. The diamondback moth ones are set up as a delta trap, with a sticky card and pheromone lure inside to attract male moths. Recently, we collected the first set of cards which need to be collected and replaced every week. The cards are processed by inspecting them under a microscope. We identify and count the target insects on each trap.

The other new students and I have also been assisting the two graduate students, Amanda and Shelby, with processing their wheat samples.  Their experiments involve hand-threshing wheat head samples to identify and count wheat midge larvae infestation levels. Other collecting and processing involved red clover field trash where we are looking for overwintered weevils and red clover casebearers.
I hope to gain valuable experience, expand my scientific knowledge and perhaps step out of my comfort zone. It looks like it’s going to be an interesting summer!

Meet our students (2018) - Introducing Julia!

Hi! My name is Julia Kappeler.

I worked for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Lacombe last year, but relocated to Beaverlodge this summer to gain experience. I am excited to be involved with the Insect Pest Management program and have a lot to learn here.

I am a fourth-year student at the University of Alberta’s Augustana Campus in Camrose, majoring in Biology. I’ve been involved with undergraduate entomology research at Augustana with Dr. Tomislav Terzin. This past January, I took part in a field study course in Costa Rica where I studied katydids as bioindicators. I am an aspiring entomologist and bug collector and am excited to see what this season here in Beaverlodge and the Peace River region brings!

Meet our students (2018) - Introducing Mariah!

Hi everyone! My name is Mariah Ediger and I am enrolled in the third year of a Bachelor of Natural Resource Science degree at Thompson Rivers University. On January 8, 2018, I started to work in the Integrated Pest Management Lab at the Beaverlodge Research Farm for a four month Co-op work term.

So far I have been helping Shelby Dufton, a M.Sc. candidate, process pitfall samples collected during the 2017 field season as part of a multi-year research project examining natural enemies attacking wheat midge. This project assesses the diversity of natural enemies associated with wheat production and will generate new data on both pest and beneficials occurring within the Peace River region.

Processing pitfalls involves retrieving, identifying and counting carabid (ground) beetles, staphylinid (rove) beetles, other beetles, and any arachnids preserved in the sample. Some carabid beetle species are natural enemies of the wheat midge. Others provide free services for farmers by eating other pest insects and weed species. These beneficial beetles offer another management strategy for farmers besides insecticides and resistant crop varieties, thus expanding a farmer's arsenal of weapons to target pests.

This field research study also examines factors such as crop rotations and seeding rates on canopy closure and carabid activity patterns because we hope to identify field situations that potentially preserve or augment ground beetles in wheat.  In addition to the beetles present in the wheat production system, the project also assesses parasitoid levels in the research plots and surrounding commercial fields.  Macroglenes penetrans and two other species of parasitoid wasps were researched then approved for release to control wheat midge in the mid-80 in Saskatchewan.  This study seeks to assess the diversity, density and distribution of these parasitoids within the Peace River region.

So far, this experience has been great and I look forward to learning more about carabid beetles and the challenges facing agriculture on the prairies regarding insect pests.

Figure 1.  Mariah holding a Madagascar hissing cockroach (Grompnadorina portentosa) from
the IPM lab colony (founded by of Paul Coghlin's colony).

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Cutworm lifecycles

Cutworm scouting should target periods when larvae are present and feeding.  Most cutworm species are difficult to identify as moths and the flight period is still difficult to quantify with respect to subsequent cutworm damage or yield losses in most field crops. 

The following generalized cutworm lifecycle chart can be accessed in the recently published "Cutworm Pests of Crops on the Canadian Prairies" (2017 Floate):

The field guide is also available as a free download and contains information for all economically important species of cutworms occurring in field crops grown in western Canada.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

2017 Peace Canola Survey - Otani, Vankosky, Olfert

The 2017 Annual Peace Canola Survey was completed by Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada staff based at Beaverlodge and Saskatoon.

Since 2003, the annual survey has been performed with the main objectives of (i) collecting insect pest data throughout the region and (ii) to detect the introduction of the cabbage seedpod weevil into the Peace River region.  In 2017, a total of 102 commercial fields of Brassica napus (e.g., each field ≥80 acres in size) were surveyed and no B. rapa was encountered.  

Fields were surveyed by sweep-net using 50 - 180° sweeps on the following dates in these areas:
July 4 near Manning, Hawk Hills, Tompkins Landing, Blue Hills, Buffalo Head, LaCrete, Rocky Lane.
July 10 near Crooked Creek, DeBolt, Bezanson, Grande Prairie.
July 11 near Guy, High Prairie, McLennan, Falher, Nampa, Peace River, Tangent, Watino, Smoky River, LaGlace, Woking, Spirit River, Rycroft, Fairview, Hines Creek, Sexsmith.
July 12 near Whitelaw, Berwyn, Grimshaw, Marie Reine, Jean Cote, Girouxville, Eaglesham, Wanham, Peoria, Teepee Creek, Hythe, Baldonnel, Montney, Rose Prairie, Fort St. John, Cecil Lake, Doe River, Rolla, Valhalla, Demmitt, LaGlace, Grande Prairie, Goodfare, Elmworth, Blueberry Mountain, Silver Valley, Bonanza.

Sweep-net samples were frozen then processed to generate data for a total of 9730 arthropods (excluding thrips and aphids) which were identified and categorized into 39 taxa.  The 2017 summary includes eight economically important insect pests reported from 98 surveyed canola fields plus data related to rotational practices in the Peace River region:

The 2017 summary is available as a downloadable PDF file.

THANK YOU to the following hard working AAFC staff who surveyed†, processed‡, and mapped∞ this data:  Jadin Chahade1†‡, Kaitlin Freeman1†‡, Holly Spence1†‡, Rebecca Wu1†‡, Charlotte Morrison1†‡, Cameron McGlade-Bouchard1†‡, Shelby Dufton1‡, Amanda Jorgensen1‡, and David Giffen2∞.

Finally, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, Thank you to our canola producers for allowing us to sample in their fields!