Biological Control of Insects Pests in Small Fruit, Vegetable and Apple Cropping Systems Using a Native Persistent Nematode Complex - PROJECT FILLED

Worksite Location
Hudson Valley Research Laboratory (Ulster County) with onsite experience in Dutchess, Columbia, Orange Counties.
Project Dates
April 22 - August 10
Faculty Sponsor
Peter J. Jentsch, Entomology
Other Campus-Based Mentors/Supervisors
Elson Sheilds, Art Agnello
Field Mentors/Supervisors
Teresa Rusnik (ENYCHP), Chuck Bornt, Laura McDermott, Jim O'Connell
Project Summary and Intended Outcomes

The candidate will experience aspects of field biology, horticulture, and agricultural systems focusing on the biological control of significant pests of fruit and vegetable crop production. The project introduces a complex of native and persistent predatory nematodes into Hudson Valley orchards, vegetable and strawberry fields, first identified in the northern agricultural region of NY, to manage soil dwelling life stages of key pests. Projects are in different stages of development with vegetable biocontol in year one, strawberry in year two and apple in years three and four. Building on prior knowledge and assessments of each, the intern will be involved in each unique step of project development, including introduction, determining establishment through monitoring and assessing differences of pest presence in untreated controls and agricultural treatment plots.

Roles and Responsibilities

Candidates will utilize their coursework and agricultural field experience to complement the project objectives. Interns will be a part of three research and extension outreach teams to collect field samples to determine the effectiveness of biological control development. These include the laboratories of entomologist Elson Shields, and Research Support Specialist Tony Testa, who oversees the development of nematode colonies and field applications in each of the site. Jentsch and Agnello Labs will be working with Hudson Valley Orchards on managing plum curculio while the Eastern NY Commercial Horticultural Program team members will focus on strawberry weevil in berries and wireworm of vegetable crops. Interns will work with each team to develop a better understanding of biological control application in Ag. Systems.

Qualifications and Previous Coursework

This internship in the Hudson Valley of NY provides an opportunity for skill set development in conducting biological research and extension. The intern will gain knowledge in agrosystem and soil ecology, specifically focusing on the biological control of several soil dwelling insect pests in the larval and pupal stages of development, using a complex of persistent NY native nematode species in annual vegetables ( potato and sweet potato), tree fruit, and perennial strawberry. Use of computer and Office Suite such as Excel for data collection, PowerPoint for image display and extension outreach with video experience also helpful.

Benefits and Skills

This intern will learn and participate in experimental design, sampling, data collection, and insect pest identification. They will develop professional relationships with farmer cooperators and other staff that they will need to communicate with on a regular basis concerning the project. The intern will work as part of a team of extension specialists and researchers but will also learn skills to work independently including time management and problem solving.