Engineering Real Weather Wind Tunnel for Experimental Agriculture at Field Scale

Corn earworm (CEW) is an annual pest of NY sweet corn crop. NY is one of the largest producers of sweet corn with a production value of $37 million. Monitoring is the best defense against CEW, helping growers determine the insecticide application timing. Current monitoring practice relies on trapping using a pheromone lure. However, the connection between trap catches and in-field counts is imperfect. To make the correlation stronger, we need a better understanding of how pheromone spreads in the cornfield under realistic environmental conditions and how CEW responds to the pheromone. This summer we will specifically focus on understanding how wind condition changes the pheromone distribution by building a wind tunnel array and measuring the pheromone’s spread. This will provide a valuable pesticide usage guideline for growers, allowing for well-timed use of pesticides informed by improved CEW monitoring, which can reduce yield loss and limit the unnecessary application of pesticides, thereby benefiting both the growers and our environment.

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