Project "ElatPro"

Warndienst Pflanzengesundheit
Changed on: 03.02.2020

Project ElatPro

caption
Wireworms cause economic damage to potatoes through feeding

Project title: Spotting the needle in a haystack: Predicting wireworm activity in top soil for integrated pest management in arable crops
Acronym:
ElatPro
Project duration:
3 years (1. October 2016 – 31. October 2019)
Funding:
ERA-NET C-IPM
Project lead:
AGES GmbH
Number of project partners:
14
Countries involved:
Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, France, Italy
Total funding: € 907.000.- (own contributions: € 130.300.-)

caption
Wireworms cause economic damage to potatoes through feeding

Project title: Spotting the needle in a haystack: Predicting wireworm activity in top soil for integrated pest management in arable crops
Acronym:
ElatPro
Project duration:
3 years (1. October 2016 – 31. October 2019)
Funding:
ERA-NET C-IPM
Project lead:
AGES GmbH
Number of project partners:
14
Countries involved:
Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, France, Italy
Total funding: € 907.000.- (own contributions: € 130.300.-)

Lotgo C-IMP, Coordinated Pest Management in Europe
Europa Fahne

Project description

Wireworms, the larvae of click beetles (Coleoptera: Elateridae), are abundant soil-dwelling insects which attack the belowground parts of a wide range of crops, thereby inflicting severe economic damage. Typically, wireworms damage crops when they forage in the upper soil layers. They migrate to deeper layers when soil conditions become unfavorable, or for moulting and hibernation.  Predicting these vertical movements and identifying when wireworms actually dwell in upper versus deeper soil layers is crucial for the decision and timing of control measures for these pests. Recently, the prognosis model SIMAGRIO-W has been developed as a decision support system to forecast the activity of Agriotes wireworms in upper soil layers, based on soil moisture, temperature and soil type.

Albeit successfully applied in field tests in western Germany, the model performed poorly when it was evaluated in eastern Austria. This discrepancy in the model’s performance may be due to differences in temperature tolerance between the different Agriotes species occurring in eastern Austria and in Germany. Moreover, the model does not take into account other parameters, which might be important drivers of wireworms’ vertical movements such as species-specific movement behaviors, root availability, and plant volatiles.

The current project directly addresses these gaps of knowledge and aims to significantly improve the current model. Laboratory experiments, which will reveal how specific parameters affect larval vertical movement behavior of abundant Agriotes species, are combined with field surveys in potato fields and meadows across several European regions.

Results

The most important results at a glance

Field trials

  • An ElatPro monitoring guide has been developed describing the methodology for standardized continuous wireworm activity measurements (AGES, MELES). In future projects or monitoring programs, these guidelines can be used to collect comparable data for monitoring wireworm activity as a basis for validating existing or developing new models.
  • Contrary to expectations, attractant traps are useful for wireworm monitoring also in meadow plots with dense vegetation cover. It is not clear, however, if trap catches are affected by alternative CO2-sources in the trap’s environment, i.e. more plant roots in meadows than in arable soils. This means that a comparison of trap catches from plots with differences in vegetation cover (or between meadows and arable plots) may not be valid (Agroscope).
  • The plant phenology of potatoes had no influence on wireworm activity (Agroscope, MELES).
  • In terms of the effectiveness of tillage against wireworms, ploughing has proven to be the most effective strategy, while non-turning tillage has had the least impact on the wireworm population (Hooibeekhoeve).
  • A loose crop density and/or tillage has a negative effect on wireworm activity (Agroscope, Hooibeekhoeve).
  • The wireworms at grassland sites in Germany, Austria and Switzerland did not exhibit the seasonal vertical movements described as typical in the literature. Instead, these populations remained in the upper soil layers of 0-20 cm depth (JKI, UIBK).

Semi-field trials

In the cages of the semi-open field experiments, which showed a soil coverage of up to 80% and a soil undisturbed by cultivation measures, the wireworms were partially active even under very dry soil conditions. Differences between the species occurred in that A. sputator was best able to reproduce in the cages at this site. This species also occurred naturally in larger quantities at the experimental site. However, the timing of activity of the species A. sputator, A. lineatus and A. obscurus was very similar (JKI).  

Laboratory experiments

  • The results of the laboratory tests have shown that the influence of soil moisture on the location of wireworms within the soil column mainly depends on the soil type. A. ustulatus had slightly lower soil moisture requirements than A. obscurus and was found in both, very dry and very humid areas. While A. lineatus was mainly found in warmer areas at temperatures of 13°C to 25°C, A. ustulatus and A. obscurus were found in a range of 6°C - 25°C, whereby the optimum temperature of both species was about 13°C (AGES).
  • The food choice indicated that Brassicaceae are not preferred food plants, while the no-choice trials indicated that the wireworm growth is at least in tendency reduced (JKI).
  • Volatile substances (VOCs) were identified from the roots of two maize varieties having experienced contrasted levels of wireworm infestation in the field. The results showed that the less susceptible variety released a more diverse blend of VOCs, including large amounts of hexanal, heptanal and 2,3-octenanedione. Dual-choice laboratory bioassays showed that wireworms were strongly attracted to VOCs released by maize roots. However, when wireworms were offered both maize varieties, no preference was detected, contrasting with the field results. Therefore, VOCs may not be the only cues influencing the host selection of wireworms (University of Liege).
  • Currently, we are testing an attract-and-kill system using as biocontrol agent the entomopathogenic nematodes (EPNs) and natural plant extract (maize and potatoes) incapsulated in alginate beads, as attractants. The system is killing faster respect to a classical EPNs screening but it still needs further studies and a better EPNs candidate (University of Liege).
  • By using LAMP technology, a new and fast molecular identification technique, the presence of crop-damaging wireworm species of the genus Agriotes can be determined quickly and in the field. Specific primers have been developed for A. sputator on the one hand and A. lineatus/obscurus on the other hand. The latter two species cannot be distinguished with certainty by the LAMP method. This is not a problem in terms of damage prediction and advising the growers. Currently, the LAMP primers are validated on the basis of foreign Agriotes populations (ILVO).

New model approaches and use of ElatPro project results

  • Based on the monitoring data from Eastern Austria, a new model approach for the simulation of A. ustulatus activity in the topsoil was developed to supplement the existing models. This first model version shows promising hit rates, but activity rate data of several years and sites are necessary for further development (MELES).
  • A spatially explicit mechanistic model describing the pest population dynamics in both aerial and soil compartments along the entire click beetle life cycle was developed. IGEPP currently use it to study in silico the role of grasslands in soil-dwelling pest infestation within a dynamic agricultural mosaic with the aim of bringing an original contribution to the prospect of innovative landscape-scale management strategies. (IGEPP).
  • Since the SIMAGRIO-W model algorithm is implemented in the system, ISIP serves as a hub for field and weather data. Field data collection is supported by a multi-language mobile app (Collector for ArcGIS) adapted to the project’s needs whereas the model development is assisted by importing the soil temperature and moisture data sampled at the trial sites. The final result – a regionally adapted version of the model – is disseminated in an intuitive user interface to practitioners and advisors.
  • The further development of SIMAGRIO-W on the basis of the knowledge gained in the project has so far proved to be insufficient in practice. Subsequently, information on the biology of the pest (e.g. temperature sums required for larval development) will be integrated into the model (ZEPP).

ElatPro Project partners

ElatPro Project partners

AGES GmbH
The Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES), founded in 2002, is a company of the Republic of Austria, owned by two federal ministries (Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, Health and Consumer Protection and Ministry for Sustainability and Tourism). Core tasks include the protection of human, animal and plant health, food safety and food quality, as well as the protection of consumers against fraud by providing professional and independent scientific expertise.

MELES GmbH
MELES is an office of Consulting Engineers founded in 2014 by biologists with long year expertise in agro ecology. The office initiates and manages scientific projects in the field of agro ecology and offers services to farmers and other customers, e.g. monitoring pests, especially soil pests, and planning biodiversity-enhancing measures in agricultural landscapes. The staff members particularly have research experience in the topics organic pest management, impact of climate change on agricultural pests and nature conservation in agriculture. Since foundation, MELES has been involved into several projects regarding wireworm monitoring and control. They are described at: http://www.melesbio.at/forschung/

University of Innsbruck, Department of Ecology
Our work addresses the ecology of animals in natural and managed ecosystems and the role these organisms play in providing ecosystem services. We seek to understand mechanisms governing the structure and functioning of natural communities through integration of novel techniques with laboratory and field experiments. A major objective of our work is the analysis of food web interactions through molecular approaches: over the past 20 years, we have been assessing a wide range of trophic networks in both terrestrial and aquatic environments ranging from glacier forelands to agroecosystems and covering anything between beetles and birds. The research of the Applied and Trophic Ecology group is embedded in various projects, many of them executed collaboratively with leading researchers from all around the world. The outcome of this work is published in leading international journals: https://www.uibk.ac.at/ecology/forschung/applied-and-trophic-ecology/

University of Liége, Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech
The laboratory of functional and evolutionary entomology (ULG) focuses its teaching and research activities on fundamental and applied entomology, with particular interest to the development of innovative strategies to control insect pests for agricultural productions. Our research group of Chemical and Behavioural Ecology is focusing in semiochemicals (pheromones and allelochemicals) that are involved in the modification of insect behavior and plant-insect interaction.

National research centre for witloof/chicory

The National research centre for witloof-chicory (NPW) focuses primarily on the cultivation problems and possibilities in chicory and innovative crops. Important research items are variety research, plant nutrition and fertilization, crop protection, water, cultivation technology, energy, optimization of organic production and diversification.

INAGRO
Inagro is the knowledge partner of agricultural and horticultural businesses in the areas of innovation and sustainability. Geographically speaking Inagro is located in the very intensive and innovation-driven agricultural and horticultural heart of the province of West Flanders in Belgium. Within its own optimized professional research infrastructure, Inagro's scientific and technical teams devise farming and cultivation techniques ready for practical use. Our partners in these endeavours are universities, university colleges and businesses. Inagro's advisers take the new expertise to the agricultural and horticultural businesses and guide the businesses in how to implement these insights, all of which is supported with professional communication tools. Inagro represents more than 60 years of hands-on tradition in agricultural research and education, with 210 members of staff.

Hooibeekhoeve
HH is an independent research centre on livestock, fodder crops and rural development in Flanders. We are a dairy experimental farm with expertise in several research topics and have strong educational and knowledge exchange activities with farmers and agricultural students. Thanks to the intensive communication, we know the needs of the farmers. Our research is always looking for answers to these. HH is the contact point for farmers and is the link to other (international) institutions and the government.

IGEPP
IGEPP is a research unit that gathers scientists from three entities: the research and teaching institute in agricultural sciences, Agrocampus Ouest, the University of Rennes 1, and INRA. INRA, the French National Institute for Agricultural Research, is a national public research institution with two regulatory authorities: the French Ministry of Research and the French Ministry of Agriculture. Its six main objectives consist in producing and disseminating knowledge (more than 4000 publications/year), promoting innovation through technology transfer and partnerships (340 patents, 108 start-ups in 17 years), training future scientists (more than 1800 PhD students), shaping national and European research strategies, informing public policy and fostering debate regarding science’s role in society. Staff involved in ElatPro belongs to the team Ecology & Genetics of Insects. https://www6.rennes.inra.fr/igepp_eng/About-IGEPP

ZEPP
The Central Institute for Decision Support Systems in Crop Protection in Germany (ZEPP) was established in October 1997 based on an administrative agreement between the German federal states. The main task of ZEPP is to collect, test and further develop existing forecast and simulation models for important agricultural and horticultural pathogens (pests and diseases) for use in practice. Furthermore, the development of prognosis models for previously unprocessed pests is initiated. http://www.zepp.info/

JKI
The Julius Kühn Institute (JKI) is the Federal Research Centre for Cultivated Plants in Germany and an autonomous superior federal authority in the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL). Within JKI 17 research institutes work on a wide variety of topics. The Institute for Plant protection in Field Crops and Grassland is working on the current challenges and issues of plant protection. This includes the evaluation of pesticides as well as research on the resilience of crops against certain diseases or research on harmful organisms from a biological and ecological point of view. Furthermore, a focus of the institutes work lies on the research of pesticide resistance development in connection with plant protection product use. At the same time research is carry out on the development of efficient and resource-sparing plant protection methods for a sustainable and organic agricultural farming.

Veneto Agricoltura

The Agency for innovation in the primary sector of the Veneto Region  - Veneto Agricoltura (VA) , supports the Regional Government in implementing the policies for agriculture, food, forestry and fisheries.
The main areas of activity can be summed up as follows: research & development activities including those about sustainable agriculture as holistic approach and as set up of individual processes; dissemination, sharing and increase of knowledge; promotion and food quality certification; food laboratory analysis for characterization and quality control; wildlife survey and study; conservation of plant and animal biodiversity in agriculture; regional government-owned forest management; hydrological regime control in at-risk areas.

Agroscope
Agroscope is the Swiss centre of excellence for agricultural research, and is affiliated with the Federal Office for Agriculture within the Swiss Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education, and Research. The main goal of the research activities of Agroscope is to contribute to a competitive and sustainable agriculture and food sector as well as to an intact environment. In 2018, Agroscope disseminated almost 1’400 publications and 1’600 posters and talks on all aspects of agricultural food production. 56 Bachelor and Master Students and 92 PhD students conducted their thesis work at Agroscope.


ISIP
The Information System for Integrated Plant Production (ISIP) is a Germany-wide online decision support system of the German Governmental Advisory Services. It is developed as a universal framework to implement weather-based simulation models on the Internet. The system is designed to use modern information technology to make the primary task of the Advisory Services - the information transfer to practitioners - more efficient.

ILVO
The Flanders Research Institute for agriculture, fisheries and food (ILVO) performs multidisciplinary, innovative and independent research aimed at economically, ecologically and socially sustainable agriculture and fisheries. The Plant Sciences Unit studies all aspects of primary plant production, from soil to pathogen. In the context of crop protection, researchers study and identify the bacteria, fungi, viruses, insects, mites and nematodes that can plague plants and sustainable ways to combat them.

x