Christine Noronha – finding innovative ways to control insect pests

This article was originally written and submitted as part of a Canada 150 Project, the Innovation Storybook, to crowdsource stories of Canadian innovation with partners across Canada. The content has since been migrated to Ingenium’s Channel, a digital hub featuring curated content related to science, technology and innovation.

Christine Noronha holding her light trap

Dr. Christine Noronha specializes in developing pest management strategies to reduce insecticide use in agricultural crops in Atlantic Canada. Her innovative research has a direct impact on farming activities and provides farmers with cutting edge technologies.

She developed the Corn Borer Crusher, a mechanical device to crush potato stems and the larvae of the European corn borer hiding inside when the potatoes are being harvested. Controlling this insect was difficult because once the larvae hatch and enter the stem they are protected from insecticide sprays. Now farmers can build their own inexpensive crusher and reduce their operating costs and use of pesticides.

To help reduce wireworm populations (a pest that caused $6 million in damages in Prince Edward Island in 2013), she developed a technique that uses plants such as buckwheat and brown mustard to deter the pest.  She also invented the Noronha Elaterid Light Trap (NELT), which traps large numbers of females (900 click beetles or adult wireworms), thus reducing egg laying and population buildup.

Dr. Noronha provides advice and identification of pest directly to farmers and the agricultural industry. She works closely with the agricultural industry, which includes the PEI, NB and NS departments of Agriculture, PEI Potato Board, PEI Horticultural Association and individual farmers.

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