Student appeals to farmers after Covid-19 disrupts research

Ground beetles have been shown to be effective predators of crop pests such as aphids, slugs, caterpillars, grubs and mites
Ground beetles have been shown to be effective predators of crop pests such as aphids, slugs, caterpillars, grubs and mites

A PhD student whose research into pest-eating beetles has been badly disrupted by the Covid-19 lockdown is appealing for farmers to help with her project.

Kelly Jowett had planned to run a series of farmer workshops this year – but has instead been forced online to seek opinions on the benefits of ground beetles in crop protection.

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.”



The Rothamsted student is hoping to discover which farm management practices can encourage those ground beetle species that have a proven role in crop protection, whilst being favourable to farmer’s preferences.

An online survey has been set up that takes less than 20 minutes to complete. Social media users can share the survey 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 COVID19," Ms Jowett 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 is seeking input from all farming 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.