Nematodes in Cotton
Farmers have to monitor crops both for things they can see, and for those they can’t. Nematodes are microscopic plant-eating pests that usually live beneath the soil surface.
Zane Grabau is an Assistant Professor of Nematology at the University of Florida. He studies plant parasitic nematodes in agricultural and horticultural crops. For a crop like cotton, he says, your best practice is diverse crop rotations, and where available, resistant varieties.
Grabau… “For a few years now, we've had root knot nematode resistant varieties of cotton previously. We hadn't had anything for reniform nematode. So the fact that there's potentially some varieties coming out that may help with reniform nematode is exciting.”
Grabau and colleagues are working on more effective ways to monitor for these pests that cannot be seen with the naked eye. They are currently testing remote sensing options.
Grabau… “The collaboration with Ian Small up at the North Florida Research and Education Center, part of the University of Florida. We're looking at using remote sensing drones in common parlance as a tool to quantify nematode damage and how different treatments affect cotton growth, again using that remote sensing or imaging from drones.”
He hopes projects like this one will ultimately help farmers better control these microscopic pests.