November 15, 2010
A new digital identification technology is being tested in hopes it will help nursery growers pinpoint which pests are threatening their crops.

A research project, supported by LO, will use a cutting-edge system to capture colour images of live insects, identify them and then enter them into a new digital guide to Ontario nursery pests. This should allow growers to quickly identify pest problems and take appropriate actions to minimize the impact on plants.

Researchers, led by Professor Stephen Marshall of the University of Guelph, School of Environmental Science, are completing the development of a digital guide to nursery insects. It will be published in the Canadian Journal of Arthropod Identification, which will be available as an online tool for growers.  

The project received a grant of $7,000 from the Farm Innovation Program (FIP), which is aimed at boosting agricultural research, competitiveness, and productivity in Ontario’s agricultural sectors. FIP is one of the Innovation and Science Suite of programs in Ontario for Growing Forward, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative, which is administered by the Agricultural Adaptation Council (AAC) on behalf of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and OMAFRA.

“Fast and accurate identification of nursery-associated pest insects is an important tool for our sector to remain competitive and grow top quality products for our customers,” says Tony DiGiovanni, executive director of Landscape Ontario. “New technologies will make it easier to quickly capture and share information throughout the sector.”

Currently, modern identification tools and up to date taxonomic data are lacking for many insects and arthropods. Nursery growers often rely on a combination of their own experience and the help of nursery specialists from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs to identify pests and determine suitable control strategies.