Beetle researcher seeks help from farmers

A Rothamsted researcher whose work into pest-eating beetles has been badly disrupted by the coronavirus lockdown is appealing for help from farmers.

Kelly Jowett, whose PhD is co-supervised by Reading University, had planned to run a series of farmer workshops – but has instead been forced online to seek their opinions.

Ms Jowett is investigating the benefits of ground beetles in crop protection.

See also: How to increase beneficial insects in arable crops

She said: “With increasing restrictions on pesticides, and public opposition to chemical use, agricultural researchers are looking for new pest management options.

“Paramount to this is ensuring these are effective and applicable to real world situations.”

Ms Jowett hopes to discover which farm management practices can encourage ground beetle species that have a proven role in crop protection, while helping farmers.

20 minute survey

She has set up an online survey that takes less than 20 minutes to complete and is appealing for help across social media using the hashtag #BeneficialBeetlesSurvey

“I had originally planned farmer workshops to accompany the questionnaire, which may not be possible in my PhD timescale due to Covid-19,” she said.

“So I’m humbly requesting as many farmers as possible take part or help spread the word, so that I’m able to collect and analyse meaningful data.”

The survey needs input from all sectors, as ground beetles are beneficial on all farm types.

Studies have shown that ground beetles eat a range of important crop pests and can control the populations of livestock pests too.

Ground beetles also support biodiverse habitats and provide food resources for threatened farmland wild birds.

The Beneficial Beetle Survey can be completed here.