Monday, November 9, 2015

National Integrated Pest Management Committee Formalizes Structure

The effort to revitalize the National Integrated Pest Management Committee moved forward last month with the formalization of the committee structure and election of new executive officers.

The committee was initially formed in 1985 and helped to champion IPM to national prominence, including the Clinton Administration’s announcement in 1993 that IPM was a national priority and the release of the national IPM roadmaps in 2002 and 2004. In recent years, however, the activity of the committee had declined.

That's changed over the past two years, as the national committee has been reformed as part of a larger effort to invigorate the IPM base nationally. 

The committee is officially a subcommittee within the Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities, which advocates for the needs and priorities of public universities and serves as their voice in Washington.

In two days of meetings in October, a new committee structure was ratified and executive officers elected. New officers are Frank Louws from North Carolina State University, Charles Allen from Texas A&M AgriLife, and Doug Walsh from Washington State University.  

Also discussed at the meeting were the use of IPM to resolve resistance and pollinator issues, invasive species and climate change, technology advancements and their utility in IPM programs, and IPM solutions for public health issues. 

Although committee members have been selected, future annual meetings will be open to anyone interested in integrated pest management and remote access will be available for those unable to travel to Washington, D.C. Meeting details will be announced in The Western Front.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Western IPM Center Letter about EPA's Pollinator Protection Proposal

To Growers, Beekeepers, and Other Concerned Stakeholders:

EPA is seeking comment on a proposal to adopt mandatory pesticide label restrictions to protect managed bees under contract pollination services from foliar application of pesticides that are acutely toxic to bees on a contact exposure basis. These label restrictions would prohibit applications of pesticide products, which are acutely toxic to bees, during bloom when bees are known to be present under contract. (The proposed label restrictions will not apply to situations where contracted pollination services are not in use.) EPA is also seeking comment on a proposal to rely on efforts made by states and tribes to reduce pesticide exposures through development of locally-based measures, specifically through managed pollinator protection plans. (More Details Below, including proposed label language and an extensive list of affected active ingredients.)

Comments must be received on or before June 29, 2015.
You may provide comments directly to EPA at in docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2014-0818.!docketDetail;D=EPA-HQ-OPP-2014-0818 

The Western IPM Center is developing a coordinated response for Western states. I will be glad to incorporate into our response any comments, concerns, feedback or relevant data from interested stakeholders. Please forward your comments to me at or contact me at 530-750-1271. Individuals may also comment directly on the public docket linked above.

Your input on this important issue affecting agriculture is strongly encouraged! We have requested a 30-day extension of the June 29 deadline, but it is not clear at this time if an extension will be granted. Links to more information are at the bottom of this notice.

Important Considerations (extracted from EPA proposal):
"EPA encourages pollination service contracts established between growers and beekeepers that take into account the increased likelihood of bee colony exposure by including provisions to ensure that colonies will be protected and pollination services secured. If EPA receives evidence during the public comment period and/or through outreach at stakeholder meetings that such contract provisions are common or that there are other effective and mutually agreed upon stakeholder (i.e., beekeeper-to-grower) practices indicating that application of acutely toxic pesticides is not of risk concern for bees under contract, then EPA will consider this evidence in determining whether this scenario needs the mitigation indicated in the proposed language." (From second paragraph on p 11 of the .pdf; last paragraph of section 5.2)

"EPA understands that there are some flowering crops and ornamentals that have an indeterminate period of bloom, i.e., these crops flower, set fruit and continue to flower throughout the year, and that for these crops bees are present under contract for pollination services for extended periods of time. Examples of indeterminate blooming crops which involve commercial pollination services include: cucurbits, strawberries, etcEPA recognizes that the proposed prohibition on application of acutely toxic pesticides during the time when bees are present under contract may cause significant issues for the growers of these crops. Therefore, EPA requests input during the comment period on alternative mitigation approaches for these pollinator-attractive crops with indeterminate periods of bloom." (From p 14 of the .pdf; Section 6.4, "Indeterminate Bloom")

From EPA's Proposal, here is the proposed Label language:

Appendix B – Proposed Labeling
It is a violation of Federal law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling.
FOR FOLIAR APPLICATIONS OF THIS PRODUCT TO SITES WITH BEES ON-SITE FOR COMMERICAL POLLINATION SERVICES: Foliar application of this product is prohibited from onset of flowering until flowering is complete when bees are on-site under contract, unless the application is made in association with a government-declared public health response. If site-specific pollinator protection/pre-bloom restrictions exist, then those restrictions must also be followed.

From EPA's Proposal, here is the list of active ingredients that are affected by the proposed Label changes:

"Appendix A – List of registered active ingredients that meet the acute toxicity criteria 


Emamectin benzoate 
Arsenic acid 
Chlorpyrifos methyl 


A summary of EPAs proposed action is available at:!documentDetail;D=EPA-HQ-OPP-2014-0818-0003

Jim Farrar, Director
Western Integrated Pest Management Center
2801 Second Street
Davis, CA 95618
530-750-1271 (office)

Monday, March 9, 2015

Adoption and Impact Report Shows IPM is Widely Used and Reducing Pesticide Use in the West

Many integrated pest management practices are so widely adopted in Western agriculture they have become conventional pest management. 

That is one of the key findings of a new report by the Western Integrated Pest Management Center titled “Adoption and Impacts of Integrated Pest Management in Agriculture in the Western United States.”

Other key findings:
·      Pesticide use is declining overall, and in California, has declined sharply per dollar of food produced.
·      In California, use of many of the most toxic classes of pesticides has declined, although use of carcinogenic pesticides and toxic air contaminants has increased.
·      Pesticide residues found on food are at very low concentrations, below the legal tolerance limits set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

 “This is the first in a series of special reports on IPM adoption and the impacts of IPM adoption in different settings in the West,” said Western IPM Center Director Jim Farrar, lead author of the report. “Future reports will be more specific in their focus, looking in-depth at specific crops, counties and non-agricultural settings.”

But this first report was broad, pulling data from a variety of sources to generate an overall picture of IPM adoption.

“The background of this is in 1993, the United States Department of Agriculture and EPA set a goal that integrated pest management would be practiced on 75 percent of U.S. crop acreage by the year 2000,” Farrar said. “While some level of IPM was being used on about 70 percent of acreage by the deadline, there wasn’t a lot known about the impact IPM adoption was having. And that’s really important.”

So Farrar examined peer-reviewed scientific literature and studies conducted by or on behalf of commodity groups or other agriculture interests, published since the year 2000.

“From the data, IPM has been widely adopted in Western agriculture, especially in specialty crops,” Farrar said. “One of the most interesting findings is how much less pesticide it takes to produce a dollar’s worth of food.”

Using California pesticide-use and agriculture-production data, the report shows that pesticide use per dollar of food produced has dropped by more than half since 1995. Then it took more than eight pounds of pesticide to produce $1,000 worth of food in California, and in 2012 that figure dropped below four pounds.

“The review shows there are gaps in the data that’s available, and places where IPM adoption can be improved,” Farrar said. “But overall, it shows that IPM is beneficial in managing pests, and in protecting the economy, human health and the environment.” 

The Western IPM Center is one of four regional centers funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture to promote IPM practices and serve as the hub of a multi-state partnership and communication network. From offices in Davis, California, the Center serves 13 Western states and the Pacific Island territories.

Download the 66-page report or a four-page abstract for free at

2015 Western IPM Center Grant Recipients Announced

Eleven projects have been chosen to receive a total of $300,000 in Western IPM Center grant funding for 2015.

The projects were chosen by a grant-review panel from among 23 applications requesting more than $530,000, and represent eight of the 13 Western states.

“The process went well,” said Western IPM Center Director Jim Farrar. “We had a good review panel that met in Florida at the end of January, and they identified 11 good projects to fund. I was happy with the spread of the project focus areas.”

While the quality of the applications was high, the overall number was lower this year.

“There were fewer proposals than the last two years,” Farrar said, “but based on submissions to the other regional IPM Centers and the Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program, that was a trend.”

Here are the funded projects:

Project Initiation
Brown Stink Bug Management In An Established Cotton IPM Program: A Benefit-Cost Analysis
Lydia Brown, University of Arizona

Reestablishing IPM Recommendations For Aphids In Alfalfa Hay In The Low Desert
Ayman Mostafa, University of Arizona

A Model To Predict Duration Of Soil Solarization For Disinfesting Nursery Soils Contaminated By Phytophthora Species
Jennifer Parke, Oregon State University

Development Of A Molecular Detection Protocol For Ergot Spores In Cool-Season Grasses Grown For Seed
Jeremiah Dung, Oregon State University 

Wildland Fruit As Winter Refugia For Spotted Wing Drosophila In The Intermountain West
Lori Spears, Utah State University

Predicting Variation Of Biological Insect Control In Alfalfa Hay And Seed Crops
Randa Jabbour, University of Wyoming

Work Groups
Joining Forces: Midwest And Western Weather Work Groups For National Harmonization Of Weather-Based Decision Tools
Walter Mahaffee, USDA-ARS

Developing A Roadmap Towards Sustainable Management Of Potato Soilborne Diseases
Brenda Schroeder, University of Idaho

Sharpening Tribal Skills In Forest Pest Detection And Response
Nina Hapner, Kashia Bank of Pomo Indians of the Stewarts Point Rancheria

Boulder County Emerald Ash Borer Outreach And Implementation Project
Carrie Haverfield, Boulder County Commissioners Office

Field Guide For Integrated Pest Management In Hops
Ann George, Washington Hop Commission

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Small Farms IPM Group Finds Invaders, Opportunities and Challenges

Bringing IPM information to small-scale farmers is a significant challenge, but one that has many potential benefits - including expanded opportunities to spot invasive pests and diseases.

That's the conclusion of a Western Small Farm IPM Work Group that in 2014 completed a four-year project in six Western states.

"The biggest surprise was that in the three states that implemented on-farm pilot projects, we found the first recordings of various new diseases or pests,” explained Tess Grasswitz, one of the project leaders and the state IPM coordinator for New Mexico. “That was unexpected.”

But getting IPM information – and supplies – to small farms isn't easy, as the group discovered.

The Project
The project began in 2010 with funding from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and a simple idea: to forge better connections between existing IPM teams and their small-farm counterparts in each state.

“The plan was that each state would conduct a needs assessment in the first year, then a small-farm IPM pilot project beginning in year two,” Grasswitz explained. “Three of the states in the project successfully implemented on-farm pilot programs: California, New Mexico, and Utah”.

California’s project focused on dragon fruit producers in San Diego County, while both New Mexico and Utah’s projects began with small-scale vegetable producers and expanded to include fruit IPM. The other three states involved in the work group, Washington, Oregon and Idaho, concentrated on different outreach activities.

“This was not a traditional working group, and we didn’t have a lot of meetings with each other,” Grasswitz said. “That was not the aim. Instead, we wanted interaction with the growers to learn how to better meet their IPM-related needs.”

Positive Outcomes
 Generally, the group found growers valued the interactions they had with the researchers and the IPM knowledge they gained, especially through the one-on-one, on-farm contacts.

The unexpected outcome was the discovery of several pests and diseases in locations where they hadn’t been seen before.

“In New Mexico, for instance, we found the first state records for spotted wing drosophila and a new cereal aphid (Sipha maydis) on pilot-project farms, as well as a new county record for bagrada bug,” Grasswitz said. “In Utah, they found various vegetable diseases they didn’t know they had, and in California, they found a new viral disease of dragon fruit.”

The team believes small farms – especially those in and around urban areas – are ideal places to look for new invasives for several reasons. First, because new pests seem to spread along major highways and trade routes, they’ll often show up in or near major urban areas. Second, because many small growers plant exotic crops (for local ethnic markets for example), exotic pests find themselves right at home.

“We think small farms are a potentially valuable network of new monitoring sites for these invasive species,” Grasswitz said.

Challenges Remain
 While the on-farm pilot projects produced positive results, expanding on those successes is a logistical challenge. The work group members who conducted one-on-one events recommend local, field-based activities similar to the “Farmer Field Schools” often used for IPM programs in international development.

“The best way to help is to work directly with growers on the farm, but that gets very expensive very quickly,” Grasswitz said. “And most universities and extension services are strapped for cash already.”

Another barrier to IPM adoption by small producers is the lack of availability of IPM products in small quantities.

“In all the states with on-farm projects, we found IPM adoption hindered for at least one pest by the lack of appropriate pack sizes for small-scale producers,” Grasswitz said. “Examples of that included pheromone dispensers for mating disruption, organic pH buffers and several pesticides. We need to encourage manufacturers to address the small-farm market.”

One group member proposed the creation of small-acreage producers’ associations in each state to represent the needs of small producers and facilitate information flow between the farmers and IPM educators and researchers.

“Globally, the importance of small-scale farms and urban or peri-urban agriculture is huge,” Grasswitz said. “It’s important to continue to focus on it.”