By practicing the following protocols we will be able to reduce the introduction of harmful insects and diseases, and lower our restricted chemical pesticide use. With everyone’s cooperation, and the successful implementation of these protocols, the work environment in the Duke University Phytotron will be improved, pest problems will be fewer, and the need for Phytotron closings due to pesticide spraying will be less frequent.
Pest and Disease Prevention
To minimize the introduction of pests, Duke Phytotron users must contact a staff member to arrange having their plants inspected prior to bringing them into the Phytotron. The Phytotron is generally staffed from 7 am until 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday.
To have plants inspected contact:
Greg Piotrowski Amy Eddings
When growing from seed, the preference is that the seed be sown in the Phytotron rather than another facility. Seed must be free of insects and diseases. Seedlings sown in another facility must be inspected before being moved into the Phytotron.
Clean, sanitized pots must be used for all plants and seeds. Clean pots are available in the Phytotron. Upon completion of a study, it is the responsibility of the researcher to wash and sanitize pots borrowed from the Phytotron. Supplies for cleaning pots are available.
To further reduce insect populations and pathogen infections, all soils should be pasteurized to a temperature that will eliminate soil insects, weed seeds, and the majority of harmful plant bacteria and viruses. The Phytotron has steam pasteurization equipment; contact a staff member to have soil pasteurized. Soil should never be reused unless it is first pasteurized.
While working in chambers and greenhouses, it is important to keep doors closed to prevent the possible spread of insects throughout the Research Area of the Phytotron.
Prior to the start of each new study, Phytotron chambers and greenhouses are cleaned, and “cooked” to a temperature of at least 45 degrees Celsius to eliminate harmful pathogens.
All chambers and greenhouses are inspected by the Phytotron staff at least once each week for pests. The staff will contact you if pests are present. Researchers should assist the staff by frequently monitoring their plants for the early detection of pests; please notify Phytotron staff if pest problems occur. Periodically, the Phytotron staff will place yellow or blue sticky monitoring cards in chambers and greenhouses to help identify pest problems. These sticky cards can also be used as passive traps to help reduce minor populations of certain insects. Phytotron users can request the placement of these cards by contacting the staff.
Order of Entry
To minimize the spread of pests, an “order of entry” protocol exists throughout the Phytotron. This consists of entering clean or minimally infested chambers and greenhouses before entering any that have moderate or serious pest populations. This will minimize the spread of pests from one area to another. When Phytotron users also frequent other facilities such as research greenhouses and labs, it is important to keep the order of entry protocol in mind. Adjust your schedule so that you always move from clean areas to infested areas, and never the reverse.
Historically, the BioSci Research Greenhouses have heavier pest infestations than the Phytotron. If you have plants in both of these facilities and you’re unaware of pest problems on your plants, always visit the Phytotron before the Research Greenhouses.
The staff uses an order of entry protocol for daily watering and pest scouting. This can change weekly depending on the type of insects in the Phytotron and their severity. The staff also takes care to wash or wipe watering implements, and tools when moving from one chamber or greenhouse to another.
Entering Infested Chambers & Greenhouses in the Phytotron
If pest problems occur on your plants in the Phytotron, you will be notified by the staff, and treatment options will be discussed. If you must enter chambers or greenhouses that have pest problems, do everything you can to prevent the spread of those pests. If possible, do your work inside the chamber or greenhouse instead of bringing the infested plants out into the main research area.
Insects can easily attach themselves to clothing, especially sleeves, so avoid brushing against infested plants. Wearing a lab coat will help prevent insects from getting on to your clothes and being moved to other areas. The Phytotron provides lab coats and disposable shoe covers.
Wear a clean lab coat and shoe covers for each infested chamber or greenhouse you enter. Remove the coats and covers and deposit them in the designated container when you exit. The Phytotron staff will dispose of shoe covers and launder the lab coats.
Wash or wipe down any equipment that you have taken into an infested chamber or greenhouse before exiting or proceeding to a new area.
If you have previously been in an area with an insect infestation, or think you may have, you should not enter the Phytotron.
Pest Control and IPM
The Duke University Phytotron practices Integrated Pest Management (IPM). This is an established system utilizing a combination of resources to effectively combat pests; the goal being to keep pest populations within acceptable limits. The Phytotron staff offers IPM resources such as insect biocontrols and physical means. Combined with sanitation, monitoring, and education, these resources reduce our reliance on restricted chemical pesticides, which is also an option in the IPM management system.
When pest or disease problems occur, you will be notified by the Phytotron staff. The staff can help select and implement the most efficient response to the problem. Researchers are not allowed to spray restricted chemical pesticides in the Phytotron. If a situation warrants spraying restricted pesticides, it will be carried out by the Phytotron staff.
For everyone’s safety, it is our policy to close the entire research area of the Phytotron each time the staff makes an application of a restricted pesticide. The facility will be locked, signs posted at all entry ways, and email notices will be sent to all Phytotron users in advance of the application date. If you are not on the Phytotron Users List, please contact the staff to be put on it. The research area will reopen when the proper Restricted Entry Interval (REI), as defined by the EPA Worker Protection Standard (WPS), has elapsed. If Phytotron closings conflict with your research, please contact a staff member immediately so that the pesticide application can be rescheduled.
The implementation of the Duke University Phytotron pest management protocols should result in fewer Phytotron closings due to pesticide spraying.