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Pest & Disease Control | Rotate & Combine Controls to Prevent Resistance Buildup in Pests & Pathogens
Rotate Crops & Controls to Prevent Resistance in Pests & Pathogens

Rotate Crops & Controls

Prevent Resistance Buildup in Pests & Pathogens

If crops are replanted year after year in the same location, pests and diseases will tend to build up resistance to the controls used to keep them at bay. Crop rotation is a great way to prevent buildup of pathogens in the soil that are specific to that type of crop. It is also a good way to minimize populations of overwintering crop-specific pests.

Another effective way to minimize resistance buildup is by alternating the control. Certain controls can also be combined for better efficacy. These methods involve spraying different controls in alternating intervals or combining different controls in the same tank mixture.

In this article, we'll introduce some examples of rotation, combination, and resistance-proof controls for minimizing this effect in crop pathogens.

Rotating Controls for Early and Late Blight

Rotate Controls for Early and Late Blight

At our Albion research farm, when treating tomatoes for early and late blight prevention, we typically alternate controls by spraying with Oxidate® OG (a peroxide-based fungicide/bactericide) to first sanitize the crop and then follow up with Champ® WG OG (a copper fungicide). The next time we spray, we might again treat with Oxidate® OG, but then follow up with a different fungicide, such as Actinovate® OG.

Combining Controls for European Corn Borer or Cucumber Beetles

Controls can be combined for treating European Corn Borer or Cucumber Beetles...

Combining control products with different modes of action will slow the buildup of resistance by targeting specific functions. For example, in European corn borer control, spinosad, the active ingredient of Entrust® OG, targets the insect's nerves and muscles; while Bacillus thuringiensis, the active ingredient of Dipel® OG, targets the insect's mid gut. Using a tank mix (combination) of materials such as these will have a synergistic control that will be more effective than independent applications.

Similarly, for control of cucumber beetles, Pyganic® OG (a pyrethrin-based insecticide) might be tank mixed with Surround® OG (a kaolin clay-based repellent) to provide both initial knockdown and subsequent repulsion of these cucurbit-loving pests.

Resistance-Proof Control

Sustainable, Resistance-Proof Pest Control

There are other alternative controls to which arthropods and other pests cannot build up resistance. Safer® Brand Diatomaceous Earth (OG) kills by ingestion or by contact with the powder, which contains the fossilized remains of diatoms that cut the exoskeleton, causing dehydration within 48 hours. SuffOil-X® (OG) is a high-paraffinic, low-aromatic oil that suffocates eggs, larvae, nymphs, and adults of soft-bodied insects and mites. Other paraffinic or mineral oils and insecticidal soaps are also effective means of control without the possibility of resistance buildup.

Sluggo® OG is a unique granular product that contains the naturally occurring mineral iron phosphate, which breaks down into soil fertilizer, combined with a mollusk bait that lures the slugs to their demise. It is safe to use around children, pets, and wildlife, yet resistance-proof and lethal to slugs and snails.

Take Notes, Mix It Up, and Keep It Safe

These are just a few examples of methods available for providing the control you need, while minimizing the risk of resistance buildup in pests and pathogens. From the commercial grower on down to the home gardener, keeping detailed records of which insect or disease issues are prevalent, the controls that were used, and how they worked is crucial to success. Always remember to read and carefully follow all label instructions when applying any pest or disease controls. When applied with a bit of commonsense, the fundamentals of crop rotation, control rotation, control combination, and resistance-proof choices are safe, effective, and environmentally sustainable.


More Information

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Resistance or Tolerance?

Pesticide resistance is the adaptation of a pest species targeted by a pesticide resulting in decreased susceptibility to that chemical.

The Insecticide Resistance Action Committee (IRAC) defines resistance as "a heritable change in the sensitivity of a pest population that is reflected in the repeated failure of a product to achieve the expected level of control when used according to the label recommendation for that pest species."

Pesticide tolerance is defined as the amount of pesticide residue allowed by law to remain in or on a harvested crop.

Insecticide resistance is not the same as tolerance (though this terminology is widely debated and inaccurately used interchangeably).

  • Low-level resistance is still resistance, not tolerance.
  • A species-wide ability to survive a particular insecticide is tolerance, not resistance. (E.g., aphids are not killed by the insecticide carbaryl [Sevin]. They did not develop resistance as a result of selection pressure by repeated use of this insecticide; they always have been "tolerant" of this insecticide.)


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