Gaming Simulation to Improve Lygus Control in Cotton

Infestation heat map from simulation game screen: Community-wide game results show an overall 13% infestation of the area's cotton with the damaging Lygus bug. The distribution of the infestation across the community is controlled by the choices made by growers in crops and their locations. Cotton fields are shown as light gray if uninfested or in varying shades of pink and red to indicate the intensity of the bug infestation. Turquoise fields are sink crops, or crops that help attract Lygus away from cotton, and orange fields are source crops that place cotton at greater risk of lygus infestation.
Infestation heat map from simulation game screen: Community-wide game results show an overall 13% infestation of the area's cotton with the damaging Lygus bug. The distribution of the infestation across the community is controlled by the choices made by growers in crops and their locations. Cotton fields are shown as light gray if uninfested or in varying shades of pink and red to indicate the intensity of the bug infestation. Turquoise fields are sink crops, or crops that help attract Lygus away from cotton, and orange fields are source crops that place cotton at greater risk of lygus infestation.

Gaming technology has expanded beyond the entertainment realm into U.S. production agriculture to provide cotton growers with a new tool in the war against the lygus insect.

 A just completed multi-user, computer-based gaming simulation will help cotton growers more effectively manage lygus in cotton and other crops.

The software was conceived and commissioned by the University of Arizona (UA) and built by Red Hill Studios.

The gaming simulation is one outcome of a five-year project involving cotton scientists, growers, and industry leaders through a $2.5 million grant from the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service’s Risk Avoidance and Mitigation Program (RAMP).

The RAMP study examined lygus populations in upland and Pima cotton, romaine lettuce, dry beans, chile, cauliflower and broccoli grown for seed, alfalfa seed, safflower, tomatoes, onions, garlic, alfalfa hay, guayule, and lesquerella.

The gaming simulation was developed for three cotton-growing regions including California’s San Joaquin Valley, Arizona and West Texas. The concept could be eventually deployed throughout the Cotton Belt.

The simulation will be rolled out first in Arizona late this summer or early fall at training workshops. A California rollout is expected this fall or winter.

Targeted pest species include Lygus hesperus found from California to Texas and Lygus lineolaris found east of Texas.

“We need to better understand lygus movement so cotton growers can more strategically arrange their landscape in an overall farming community to minimize pest damage,” said Peter Ellsworth, the project leader.

Read more from the July 9 issue of Western Farm Press at the link below.

Date released: 
Jul 17 2011
Contact: 
Peter Ellsworth