Pest control is one of the most serious problems in vegetable cultivation. Pesticides which can kill non-target organisms have been widely utilized in the past for pest control. More recently, selective pesticides which kill specific pest species but show little impact against non-target and beneficial organisms have been developed. However, too much use of these pesticides leads to the development of resistance among insect pests. It is therefore important to develop sustainable pest control measures to cope with this problem.
The Insect Pest Management Unit aims to promote the efficient utilization of natural enemies as an alternative to pesticides for controlling insect pests. In greenhouses, two methods are applied when introducing natural enemies; an inoculative releasing and a banker method. The former is multiple introductions of natural enemies, and the latter is single introduction of natural enemies with alternative prey insects and their host plants both of which have no effect on vegetables. We have developed the banker method using indigenous aphid parasitic wasps "Gifuaburabachi" (Aphidius gifuensis) to control foxglove aphids (Aulacorthum solani) and green peach aphids (Myzus persicae). We are now promoting this system in green pepper fields at western regions of Japan. For open-field vegetables, we are examining the effect of using selective pesticides and simultaneous planting of cover crops against wandering predators such as ground beetle and spiders in cabbage fields.
We are also conducting researches on new pest control methods using light emission with specific color, the efficient utilization of pheromones in predicting the occurrence of insect pests and breeding leek vegetables with antibiotic resistance against insect pests.