After 21 years of work, Cornell researchers are spreading the word about an on-farm biocontrol method to solve the problems caused by the destructive invasive species alfalfa snout beetle (ASB).

Available for free

The 30-page ‘Rearing and Applying Nematodes to Control Alfalfa Snout Beetle' manual that condenses the Cornell research on the pest is available online free of charge. More than 13 per cent (500,000 acres) of the New York's agricultural land has been infested by ASB, which can destroy entire fields in one year.

Research has shown that treating fields with native insect-attacking nematodes that feed on the ASB larvae can cause alfalfa snout beetle populations to drastically diminish, according to a Cornell University press release.

“The nematodes naturally recycle within the alfalfa snout beetle host, persist in the soil, and effectively self-disperse creating the opportunity for sweeping and perpetual control across treated fields,” says Antonio Testa, a Cornell research support specialist.

The treatment combines two types of nematodes that coexist well.

One prefers shallower soil, the other burrows deeper, broadening the effectiveness of the Cornell protocol.

The mass-produced the native nematodes and the nematodes were sprayed onto field surfaces. “Growers are able to inoculate their fields just one time to achieve long-term control. This saves the cost of annual applications of the more costly commercially produced nematodes that persist in the field for less than a single growing season,” Testa says.