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26 I EUROPEAN SEED I EUROPEAN-SEED.COM nematodes are highly effective but very expensive and their application is extremely costly. Entomopathogenic soil fungi such as Beauveria bas- siana and Metarrhizium anisopliae are cheaper and persistent in the soil but up to now their efficacy is behind classic insecticides. The efficacy of both nematodes and soil fungi depends on favour- able soil conditions requiring a certain amount of moisture to keep the biological agents alive. This is rarely the case and the biological agents fail in harming the WCR larvae. Successful research into the formula- tion of soil fungi will possibly lead to a biological control measure in the future but currently adequate tools are lacking. One insecticide based on nematodes is authorised in Austria however no fungal product against the larvae is on the market. In 2013 and 2014 the WCR population nearly doubled as was dis- covered when monitoring crops in Styria and as a result approximately 2000 ha three per cent of the fields planted with maize of maize was destroyed and nothing could be harvested. Farmers saw no way out. In the late summer of 2014 beetles migrated into fields where lettuce was growing. Farmers were unable to sell their produce due to countless beetles crawling on the lettuce leaves. This means WCR is no longer just a problem for maize producers but is now a threat to the entire agriculture industry in Styria. Politicians have taken particular notice of this problem and know that a solution has to be found. In 2014 the situation forced them to approve a stricter provision on crop rotation two times maize in three years. Consequently the small traditional farms which should have been protected are jeopardised. Small farms will face economic problems over the coming years as a result of lower incomes. Sowing alternative crops such as wheat Triticum aestivum and particularly sorghum Sorghum spp. is promoted. Sorghum is best able to utilize manure. This is an important feature for livestock farmers who are the majority in areas of Styria where WCR populations are largest. Farmers are cooperating. They realize that changing crop rota- tion is the only solution. In 2015 17 per cent less maize was sown than the previous year. However WCR populations continue to increase and at the moment they are so large that crop rotation is no longer effective. WCR is also being controlled with a seed granular active agent cypermethin and one out of two authorised commercial insecticides active agent thiacloprid acetamiprid. In addition a new insecticide has been temporarily authorised. It controls populations by disrupting mating. This new biotechnical insecticide is based on powdered zeolite volcanic rock blended with the sex pheromone 8-methyl-2-decyl propanoate of the western corn rootworm. Mixed with water it is spread with commercial plant spray- ers which is enormously advantageous for the user. It is the first time that a biotechnical insecticide has been used on arable land therefore there is little experience with the product. Due to its eco-friendliness and species-specific impact it has all the properties a modern insecticide requires. However essential issues remain unclear and have to be researched. There is no reliable evidence for duration of effectiveness waterproofness and impacts on beetles. Clarification is currently being worked on. The smartness of this product led regional politicians to propa- gate this insecticide through sponsorship. In Styria about 5000 ha 10 per cent of the entire maize production area of arable land planted with maize has been sprayed whereas in Upper Austria the insecticide has been employed only in seed propagation areas of about 850 ha. Unfortunately its effectiveness can only be evaluated in the following year when fewer beetles are swarming. To maintain maize production in Styria and to keep the rate of maize in crop rotation as high as possible the following strategy is propagated in addition to the use of the biotechnical pesticide. By sowing late ripening varieties of maize on 25 per cent of the fields WCR should be gathered to be combated by crop rotation in the following year. Avoiding volunteer grain weeds of the genus Setaria and flowering catch crops in the surrounding areas should guarantee that all individuals stay in maize and oviposit there. The following year a different crop has to be planted to make sure that no eggs survive. Fields where maize is rotated with maize should be kept free from WCR. To ensure this early ripening varieties should be grown so that fertilisation has finished before the majority of WCR swarm. As a result damage can be avoided. Different crops rather than maize should be planted the third rotation year in order to clean up infested fields. This strategy is just a theory. There is currently no empirical evidence of its effectiveness. Many strategies have been tried and tested to get rid of the pest notably seed granular with different active agents insecticides and genetically modified plants which is banned in Austria. However ultimately we have to accept that the initial idea of crop rotation is the cheapest and only way to live in harmony with the small swift beetle. Editors Note Dr. Marion Seiter is Crop Consultant with the Division of Plant Production of the Chamber of Upper Austria THIS MEANS WCR IS NO LONGER JUST A PROBLEM FOR MAIZE PRODUCERS BUT IS NOW A THREAT TO THE ENTIRE AGRICULTURE INDUSTRY IN STYRIA. WCR damage in maize.