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Integrated crop protection in short rotation coppice willow production - NF0406

This project aims to provide a firm scientific basis for the use of a non-chemical approach to the control of vertebrate and invertebrate pests of short rotation coppice (SRC) willows. The approach seeks to identify and exploit the interactions between pest herbivores and the biological chemistry of the willow. Depending upon the specific compounds that are present, pest herbivores are either attracted or repelled from feeding on the willow and this may provide the basis of a pest management strategy that is reliant on the willow’s own natural defences and not on the application of pesticides. Such a strategy would be based on the use of different willow varieties which differ in their attractiveness or repulsion to pests. There are parallels between the sensory acuities of insects and mammals, and the strategy could be targeted against pest species of both groups. In the first instance, the work will focus on Phratora vulgatissima (the blue willow beetle) as the invertbrate pest and rabbit as the vertebrate pest. In future projects, the work should be extended to other major pest species of SRC willows. In this project, experiments will be conducted to establish: (i) the identification of the specific biological compounds in the willow host to which beetles and rabbits respond to (2) variation in the willow hosts with respect to these compounds both among varieties and for the same variety in different environmental conditions (i.e. different localities in the UK) and (3) variation in the beetle populations with respect to their genetic composition and feeding preferences. This information is needed before a second phase of the work can be pursued. This second phase would test the robustness of the pest management strategy in new field trials; quantifying its benefits on the economics of coppice production and the environment. This study will be complimented by further investigations on the migration, colonisation and aggregation behaviour of the beetles. The objectives are relevant to the policies of the Rural England Development Plan with respect to encouraging farmers to grow energy crops productively.
Project Documents
• Final Report : Integrated crop protection in short rotation coppice willow production   (403k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 1998

To: 2001

Cost: £448,453
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Rothamsted Research (BBSRC)
Fields of Study
Non-Food Crops