Economics of long-term IPM for western corn rootworm

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Abstract or Summary

We used a published biological model and published economic algorithm to evaluate western corn rootworm (Diabrotica virgifera virgifera) IPM for growers over a 15 year period beginning after significant adoption of insecticidal corn (Zea mays). The primary focus of our analysis was the economic evaluation (grower profit) of transgenic insecticidal corn expressing Cry34/35Ab1 as event 59122 and its refuge planted continuously year after year (continuous corn). We chose the reference scenario for economic comparison to be the use of soil insecticides on continuous, conventional corn. The model simulated the evolution of rootworm resistance to transgenic insecticidal (Bt) corn; but did not simulate resistance to soil insecticides. We evaluated refuge sizes of 5–50% for single-trait Bt corn and 5–20% for pyramided Bt corn with two traits targeting western corn rootworm. We considered the role of block and blended (seed mixture) refuges for insect resistance management (IRM). Results demonstrated that, for pyramided Bt corn, block refuges planted in the same location within a field year after year gave the greatest overall profit for grower. If growers relocated their block refuge annually (which is the most common practice), then a 5% blended refuge gave the greatest return. For single-trait Bt corn, 10–20% blended refuges gave greater economic return compared to block refuges ranging from 5% to 50%. Single-trait Bt corn with 5–20% block refuge (with no insecticide) was superior to soil insecticide use alone in all cornfields.

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