Watermelons are hard notoriously to pollinate. But pollination is not their only problem; they can also experience reduced yield from pest damage. This week we hear from Jacob Pecenka, a PhD candidate at Purdue Universtity, from who tells us about the trade-offs from managing pests and loosing pollination and how Integrated Pest Management can provide an excellent way to navigate these trade-offs.
Jacob grew up in South Dakota, where agriculture was never too far away. He started his PhD in the Entomology Department in 2017. His research examines how the insecticide inputs change agricultural cropping systems. Specifically he is looking at pest/pollinator dynamics in Indiana watermelon production and how insecticides in the melons, as well as adjacent crops, alter pest insects, beneficial pollinators, and ultimately the yield and profitability of these operations. When not stomping through melon fields in a bee suit he fills his time visiting Indiana’s many state parks with my trusty dog Thea.
There has been a lot of demand for nursery plants that are good for pollinators, but also confusion on whether these plants have been grown using practices that minimize impacts to pollinators. This week we hear from Sharon Selvaggio, Program Director at Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides (NCAP), about a pilot study (conducted along with Lloyd Nackley from the OSU Hort Ecology lab and Bruce Colman from Woodburn Nursery) to see what consumers respond to when labeling pollinator plants around the practices they were grown under. Sharon has experience with pesticide risk assessment and mitigation and holds a seat on EPA’s Pesticide Program Dialogue Committee, a federal advisory group. She works to provide training and information on alternatives to pesticides for in agricultural, landscape, and residential settings. She is the author of Water is the Connection: Mitigating Pesticide Risk for Salmon Recovery. She previously worked for 27 years as a biologist and refuge manager for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Forest Service, and she holds an M.S. in Energy and Resources and a B.A. in Biology, both from the University of California at Berkeley.
Thanks again to Sean Rooney from The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) for hosting us at Bug Week and for all the people who submitted questions for the show. We always love your questions, so keep them rolling.
Adam Allington in a reporter with Bloomberg Environment in Washington DC. He covers environmental issues including pesticides and chemicals. Prior to coming to Bloomberg he spent more than ten years working in public radio. Over the course of one year, Adam, along with environment reporters David Schultz and Tiffany Stecker traveled to all corners of the honeybee ecosystem from Washington, D.C., to the California almond fields, and orchards of the upper Midwest to examine the changing relationship between commercial pollination and US food production. There findings are featured in a new Bloomberg podcast: The Business of Bees.
Bob Falconer joined the OSU Master Gardeners in 2009 but has been gardening since the 1970s. He’s been involved with horticulture since high school, with experience spanning 50 years. He was part of the team that developed and piloted OSU Extension’s Ask an Expert app, which received the OSU Vice Provost Award for Excellence. Falconer has served multiple terms as president of the Washington County Master Gardener Association. He also an Oregon Master Beekeeper. Bob knows how to grow stuff – he even has bananas growing in his yard. This week he shares his secrets on how to establish magnificent strips of Phacelia and clover.
Sarah Johnson is the lead biologist for Wildlife Preservation Canada’s Native Pollinator Initiative. WPC is a nation-wide organization focusing on hands-on recovery initiatives for critically endangered species, and the pollinator initiative supports Canadian bumble bee recovery through a diverse set of programs. As WPC’s lead pollinator biologist, Sarah has overseen a variety of citizen science training programs, runs multiple field-based research and monitoring projects, and leads the development of a captive breeding program for the at-risk yellow-banded bumble bee. Prior to her current position with WPC, Sarah received a BSc in Natural Sciences from the University of Calgary – during which she published on a project investigating how wing wear affects bumble bee’s weight lifting ability – as well as an MSc in Ecology, examining how clearcut logging impacts bee-pollinated wildflower reproduction in the foothills of Alberta’s Rocky Mountains. Sarah was also involved in the initiation of a long-term research program exploring how the agricultural landscape in southern Alberta affects pollinator diversity. As evidenced through her work, Sarah’s passion lies in the furriest (and most charming) of the pollinators: the bumble bee. However, she is also interested in conservation education, public engagement, and answering broader questions on what factors shape ecological communities.
Listen in as we talk about the bee population of Canada, her new captive breeding project, and how citizen science positively impacts her research.