A three-year research project on the cabbage stem flea beetle (CSFB) pest in oilseed rape crops aims to collect a wide spread of on-farm data to draw up integrated pest management guidelines for its better control.

The csfbSMART (Sharing Management and Agronomy Research Tools) project brings together two existing CSFB investigations. The first, Reducing the impact of CSFB on OSR in the UK, is funded by the AHDB and a consortium of industry organisations. Through improving the understanding of the beetle’s biology, the project hopes to highlight alternative pest management methods. The research is led by ADAS and Harper Adams University.

The second project, CSFB: evaluating management of oilseed rape on-farm for maximum margins, is funded by Defra and managed by NIAB. It aims to test the management methods from the other work on a wider scale, encouraging growers to carry out their own trials and analysing the data to assess their effectiveness.

“With widespread pyrethroid resistance, control of CSFB now relies primarily on a range of non-chemical control methods that either allow crops to avoid the pest or mitigate against its damage,” advises ADAS entomologist Dr Sacha White.

As well as the AHDB, ADAS, NIAB and Harper Adams, the csfbSMART partners include Rothamsted Research; the Association of Independent Crop Consultants, United Oilseeds and corporate farmer Sentry, plus plant breeding and agronomy businesses Agrovista, BASF, Bayer Crop Science, DSV, Elsoms, KWS-UK, Limagrain, LS Plant Breeding and RAGT Seeds.

“From spring 2021 through to 2024, csfbSMART will help support farmers to monitor, assess and share information, building a national and seasonal picture of the pressures of CSFB larvae and adults within oilseed rape crops and the wider farming environment,” says NIAB oilseed rape specialist and project leader Colin Peters.

“Learning from successes and failures, and working together with researchers and trade experts, will allow growers to select innovations for detailed assessment through on-farm evaluation and research investigation. This is a great opportunity to bring together all those with a vested interest in this break crop.”

There is an initial virtual workshop for agronomists and growers on March 5th – register via www.niab.com/csfbsmart