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Potato research substation giving PEI pest-control invention a trial run

Click to play video: 'P.E.I. invented device tested to help protect potatoes from pests'
P.E.I. invented device tested to help protect potatoes from pests
WATCH ABOVE: Potato researchers in rural New Brunswick are creating an enormous amount of specialized spuds. As Global’s Jeremy Keefe reports, it’s not only what they’re growing but the way they’re protecting it as well – Jul 20, 2016

A new invention designed to cut the click beetle population is now being used at Agri-Food Canada’s potato research substation located in rural New Brunswick.

The Benton Ridge Substation is a 345-hectare facility that grows thousands of potato varieties each year but like any farm, pest control is an ongoing issue.

For years, staff helped keep insects off their crops through growing, mowing and then plowing different products, preparing the different sections for the next season when potatoes would take over particular areas once again.

“We were using oriental mustard, yellow mustard,” farm manager William Flemming explained. “Now we are using brown mustard and that also helps click beetles.”

But keeping the pests from returning has proven challenging.

So when a colleague from PEI’s research farm recently created a new trap designed to drastically reduce the click beetle population, the Benton Ridge farmers figured it was worth a try.

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“It attracts female click beetles,” Flemming said of the Noronha Elaterid Light Trap (NELT). “If she lays 100 to 200 eggs, we can cut back on the amount of larvae that hatches out.”

“It actually attracts the male but the female click beetle is the one we’re after,” Flemming added.

The NELT, which entices beetles into a cup filled with dish soap, traps the culprits, ensuring they won’t multiply as they have in the past.

Although Flemming admits click beetles haven’t ruined a substantial percentage of their crops in the past, the success reported to him by its inventor Dr. Christine Noronha piqued their interest immediately.

“There’s different wire worms in different provinces,” he explained. “Their’s may be a little different than ours. We don’t know for sure, but time will tell.”

“We don’t know the results yet,” Flemming said, “but hopefully, in the next year or two we will.”

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