"Both corn rootworm resistance to Bt corn and unexpected damage to Bt corn are primary concerns for corn producers and will have significant impact on corn production in the coming years," points out Ada Szczepaniec, an Assistant Professor and SDSU Extension Entomologist with SDSU's Plant Science Department.
To address those concerns, one of Szczepaniec's current research projects includes monitoring the incidence of resistance of corn rootworms to Bt corn hybrids and unexpected performance issues of Bt corn. She has established several on-farm experiments testing effectiveness of different Bt corn hybrids in sites that have had high corn rootworm populations in previous years.
Additionally, Szczepaniec is involved in a recently funded project that will evaluate the use of cover crops to manage corn rootworms.
"These research and Extension projects will help illustrate the extent of this issue in SD, involve producers and crop consultants in disseminating the findings, and facilitate flow of information between SDSU, other institutions and governmental organizations working on this problem. We want to ensure producers in the state have access to the latest recommendations and updates," Szczepaniec says.
Another research project she is involved with is focused on assessing the non-target - or unintended - effects that insecticide seed treatments may have on unsusceptible pests and beneficial insects. "Insecticide seed treatments are widely used in soybean, corn, and wheat production in South Dakota, and we are studying how these insecticides affect non-target organisms, and directly and indirectly impact environmental and economic costs of raising crops. This is a collaborative research project funded by the USDA and South Dakota Soybean Council, and includes faculty in the Plant Science Department working in the areas of entomology, plant breeding, plant pathology, as well as faculty from other institutions," she explains.