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Roots Special: Tackling Pest Resistance in Iowa

Posted on September 17, 2018 at 8:50 AM by Iowa Corn



Resistance is showing up in weeds, insects and disease pathogens in Iowa having the potential to affect yields, increase the cost of production, and limit farmers’ future pest management options. However, Iowa has taken the lead on this issue by creating and implementing the Iowa Pest Resistance Management Program (IPRMP).


This Iowa-specific program works to address pests – including weeds, insects and plant diseases – that can adapt and become resistant to chemical, genetic and agronomic control practices. The IPRMP outlines ideas for effective, integrated management solutions that will sustainably manage pests. By developing diverse management methods, pest resistance can be delayed or even prevented, limiting its damaging spread.


The IPRMP was developed with a broad cross-section of Iowa agricultural partners to address this important issue while remaining flexible enough to incorporate new information. The Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB) has been engaged with the IPRMP since its creation and has provided checkoff funds to help support its necessary development.


The program currently consists of four pilot projects across Iowa that are focuses on specific pest resistance issues including corn rootworm, soybean aphids and weeds. Larry Buss, Harrison County farmer and ICPB Director, has been involved since the program’s inception and is the Harrison County pilot project lead.


“My interest and concern of pest resistance accelerated in the summer of 2013 when Palmer Amaranth was first discovered in Iowa and unfortunately in Harrison County,” Buss said. “With the arrival of the aggressive weed, I knew the entire agricultural community had to change its mindset to integrate pest resistance into all decisions relative to crop production.”


Iowa’s farmers will play a leading role in pest resistance management (PRM) through their stewardship of pesticide management technologies and biotechnology traits and tools. Farmers make crucial management decisions each year on more than 23 million row-crop acres. Your proactive adoption of practices is necessary to delay the development of herbicide, insecticide, and fungicide resistance, protect crop traits and manage existing cases of resistance. In turn, it will help farmers remain competitive in the global market by maintaining the long-term productivity of Iowa agriculture while reducing pest-associated yield losses.


“Pests don’t understand field boundaries, so we need to address this collaboratively with our neighbors,” Buss said. “We are engaging people from all aspects of farming to work together to address this issue including farmers, landowners, bankers, agronomists, crop consultants, academics and herbicide and seed companies.”


The Iowa program looks forward to engaging the ag community as a whole on the issue of PRM with the goal of keeping technology and tools – including pesticides for controlling weeds, insects, and disease, seed treatments, biotechnology products and native traits – available and effective. PRM will not work if only some farmers act — it will require a combined effort of the whole community.


It is important that farmers know they are not alone in their effort to address resistance as a wide variety of experts and resources are available to help.


“The pilot projects incorporate the concept of adaptive management making changes as we move forward in the pilots to learn more of the pest resistance issues and what works and what does not,” Buss said.


From the pilots, an overall program will be developed for the state that intends to include wide participation from all areas of Iowa agriculture in order to educate and prevent broad applications that could lead to resistance. To learn more about the IPRMP pilot projects and to get involved please visit


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