Comparing the performance of two decision-support systems for management of pollen beetles in oilseed rape in the UK
Abstract: Decision support systems (DSS) that identify the main period of risk by modeling the population dynamics of insect pests could target pest-monitoring efforts more precisely. Moreover, they are likely to increase growers’ confidence in decision-making, reducing unnecessary treatments and the risk of insecticide resistance in the target pest. A phenological model-based DSS widely used in Europe, ‘proPlant expert’, is now being tested for pollen beetle management under UK conditions. The performance of proPlant expert is compared with that of current advice that depends on crop growth stage and temperature and is currently disseminated to UK farmers through the CropMonitor™ website and other channels. Here we report on the first two years of this study in 2008 and 2009. Weather data and the phenology of the beetles on sticky traps and oilseed rape crops across the UK were used to validate the proPlant model in UK conditions and to compare the two DSS’s. proPlant expert performed well in predicting the start of pollen beetle migration, peaks of migration and the percent completion of migration. Both current advice and proPlant performed well in prompting monitoring that would detect pollen beetle threshold breaches and potential treatment decisions arising from each were identical. However, proPlant advised c. 20% fewer days of immigration risk and c. 45% fewer monitoring days than current advice. These initial findings suggest proPlant could reduce the monitoring time and effort required to manage pollen beetles according to thresholds in the UK.