Pest management is critical to modern agriculture, including organic production. Integrated pest management gives growers the tools they need to practice smart, safe and sustainable pest management and keep the world fed. Here are some of the IPM projects, innovations and research benefitting agriculture in the West.
- Helping Barn Owls Help Farmers
Barn owls are big, beautiful biocontrol.
“Barn owls are rodent-killing machines,” said Sara Kross, an assistant professor in environmental studies at Sacramento State University. “They are natural predators of gophers and voles which can be really horrible pests for agriculture.”
- A Home-Grown Industry: Alaskan Peonies Fills a Global Gap
Not very long ago, if you were planning a summer wedding or special occasion, one flower you could not get at any price was a peony. The elegant, lacy blooms simply weren’t available. Alaska changed all that.
- Pest or Beneficial: Earwigs in Apples
For growers, a fundamental element of integrated pest management is knowing what pest and beneficial species are in your fields. But what if there’s an insect and no one knows if it’s good or bad? That was the question for apple growers about earwigs.
- What's Plaguing that Peony?
Proper identification of a disease is the critical first step for growers to apply the correct treatment. In peonies, proper disease identification was a problem. If a plant was diseased, growers assumed that their plants were sick with Botrytis gray mold. The reality was more complex.
- Grassland Restoration Effects on Native Bees and Spiders
Throughout the West, many native grasslands have been degraded – overgrazed, overtilled, burned or overrun by invasive weeds like Medusahead or cheatgrass. While many restoration efforts only look at plant communities or endangered species, this research looked at native spider and bee communities.
- Rooting for the Underdogs of the Pollination World
As pollinating insects, bees get all the credit – but they don’t do all the work. new research is documenting the unsung heroes of the pollinating world.
- Death From Above: Encouraging Natural Predators
Native predators like kestrels and barn owls can play a valuable role in controlling pests not only on farms, but also in parks, golf courses and large yards and gardens. While they rarely eliminate a pest problem, they can reduce the need for pesticide use and other pest-control measures.
- New Guide Helps Land Managers Control Medusahead
As an ecosystem-transformer species, medusahead is among the worst weeds. Not only does it compete for resources with more desirable species, but it changes ecosystem function to favor its own survival at the expense of the entire ecosystem.
- Grazing Guidelines for Noxious Weed Control
Researchers, ranchers, and land managers know that livestock grazing can be a valuable and selective noxious-weed management tool, and this guide summarizes all the effective techniques.
- Hill-Climbing Cows May Bring Big Benefits to Western Rangeland and Ranchers
Conventional wisdom says cows don’t go up steep slopes. They don’t climb hills and don’t travel very far from water. But some cows never got that memo, and researchers are looking into whether naturally hill-climbing cows can provide production and environmental benefits in the rugged West.
- Center-Funded Website Helps Vets Treat Animals for Fleas, Ticks and Other Pests
Whether it's cattle with face flies or a dog with ticks, vets throughout the West can now easily find the available treatment options in their state thanks to a new website built with Western IPM Center funding.
- IPM in Montana
Montana is known as "The Last Best Place." An outdoor paradise, and home to wheat, barley and pulse crop production, Montana actively promotes integrated pest management to protect its agriculture and natural areas.
- Progress against Onion Pests
An update to the Pest Management Strategic Plan for dry bulb storage onions shows progress against thrips and Iris yellow spot virus, but still challenges to overcome.
- Embracing Functional Agricultural Biodiversity to Tap into Nature's Services
Bringing natural diversity to a farm can help boost production and benefit the bottom line. The concept is called functional agricultural biodiversity, and a work group in Oregon is helping Pacific Northwest farmers and conservationists know what plants to incorporate, insects to encourage and habitat to install to maximize their natural benefits.
- Spray Reductions in Cotton
For the past 15 years, researchers have been tracking pesticide use on cotton fields in the Southwest, and the reductions they've documented have been nothing short of remarkable.
- Center Funding Helps Develop a Better Way to Control Prionus Beetles
Hop growers in the Northwest - as well as a sweet cherry, apple and other fruit growers around the nation - now have a new mating disruption tool to combat the Prionus beetle and its root-boring larvae, thanks to research funded in part by the Western IPM Center.
- Boosting Invasive Species Cooperation Using Zebra Chip as a Model
When an invasive species is first detected in an area, the initial response is critical. Like with a cancer, the correct early detection and response can make a big difference in controlling the spread and severity of the outbreak.
- IPM in Utah
Utah is one of the most urbanized states in the nation, with 90 percent of the population living on just 1.1 percent of the land. It’s also the second driest state, has alkaline soils and the risk of drought is high every year. These factors drive Utah's cropping systems - and drive the way IPM programs are developed and delivered.
- IPM in New Mexico
Like many states, some of the biggest IPM challenges facing New Mexico are being caused by newly arrived invasive pests, including the Bagrada bug and spotted wing Drosophila. Here's a look at the current state of IPM in New Mexico, and some of the IPM research going on there.
- Can an Economic Model Show Growers the Importance of Reducing the Weed Seed Bank?
How important is it to keep weed seeds out of vegetable fields? Mexico State University's Brian Schutte recently looked at that very question. Funded by the Western IPM Center, Schutte studied one particular weed, tall morning glory, in Southwest chile pepper fields, and developed an economic model growers can use to see for themselves how managing the weed seed bank can help their operations.
- Croptime Project Expands Pest-Modeling Website to Include Vegetable-Development Models
Pest managers are familiar with the concept of using degree days to predict pest outbreaks. Plants – at least in part – also develop based on temperature, so a team in Oregon is adapting a degree-day modeling system built for pest management to make a tool for vegetable growers to better plan their planting and harvesting dates.
- Pest Management Strategic Plan Leads to Quick Action for Northwest Pears
Controlling pear psylla while also preserving pollinators and other beneficial insects emerged as the key pest-management challenges for growers in Washington and Oregon - and directly led to a "Psylla Summit" to address the challenge.
- Pesticide Safety Training for Hawaii's Farm Sector
Farmworker safety training often comes with language challenges - but few places more so than Hawaii, where the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources at the University of Hawaii recently produced two pesticide-safety training chartsin English, Mandarin, Tagalog and Thai.
- Montana Develops Weed Seedling Guide for the Northern Great Plains
Rapid and accurate identification of weeds at the seedling stage can save producers and land managers time and money but most weed identification guides only provide information about the mature stage of the plants. Not this one.
- IPM Adoption is Widespread 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.
- Safflower Makes an Areawide IPM Program Work
Safflower, a low-value oil seed crop, is the key to an incredibly successful soil health and areawide integrated pest management program in California — and a great illustration of how IPM works.
- VIDEO: Soil Solarization in the Pacific Northwest
VIDEO: Trapping the heat of the sun to kill pathogens and weeds in the ground works in hot climates - but new plastics and research show it can also be effective in cooler areas like the Pacific Northwest. For organic vegetable growers, it could be a game-changer for weed control.
- To Protect their Bees, Alfalfa Seed Growers Embrace IPM
A lot of growers take steps to protect beneficial insects as part of their integrated pest management programs, but how many have speed limits? Alfalfa seed growers in Washington’s Walla Walla Valley do.
- Decoding Chemical Communications to Control Insects
University of California, Riverside chemical ecologist Jocelyn Millar identifies the chemical signals insects use to communicate, then synthesizes versions of them to help monitor, trap or disrupt their activities. Lygus bug is just one of dozens of species Millar and his team are working on. The common thread is that they all communicate chemically, and decoding those chemical signals can create new ways to control those species where they are pests.
- Alaska In Photos: America's Arctic Agriculture
Alaska is huge, diverse, remote and still largely pristine. It's 2.3 times the size of Texas, with a population of just 738,000 people and 175,000 moose.
While small, the state's ag industry is important. Ornamentals, aquaculture, potatoes and cattle are top crops, and home-based and small-scale production help improve food security and diversity. Here's a little of what we saw and learned on a recent visit.
- Montana in Photos: Defending the Last Best Place
The state that calls itself "The Last Best Place" has a lot to protect from pests: vast fields of wheat and barley driving its agriculture sector, miles of mountains, forests and rangeland forming an outdoor paradise, and clear rivers and lakes at the upper end of the North American watershed. Here's a look.
- Nevada in Photos: Fighting Invasives on Land and Lake
Nevada's state flag has the words "Battle Born" above a silver star and crossed sagebrush sprays, celebrating its creation during the American Civil War. Battle born is also a pretty good description of the efforts of many people working for state, federal and local agencies to keep invasive weeds in check in Nevada's challenging landscapes. Here's a look.
- Utah in Photos: Managing Pests in a Unique State
Utah is one of the most urbanized states in the nation, with 90 percent of the population living on just 1.1 percent of the land. It’s also the second driest state, averaging less than 10 inches of rainfall a year, and has alkaline soils with low organic matter. It’s a challenging environment to farm in. Keeping invasive pests out of Utah - and minimizing the damage they cause once they arrive - is a major focus.
- New Mexico in Photos: Loving the Land of Enchantment
In New Mexico, the chile pepper is king. Hay is grown on 40 times the acreage and pecans rack up nearly 4.5 times the farm sales, but you don’t see either of those crops on the “Welcome to New Mexico” signs as you drive into the state. You see red and green chile peppers.
Chile isn’t a crop, it’s culture. Like Florida citrus and Idaho potatoes, New Mexico’s identity is tied to a crop.
- Toolkit for Assessing IPM Outcomes and Impacts
The Western IPM Center’s IPM Adoption and Impacts Assessment Work Group, a collection of natural and social scientists from across the country, created online resources showing IPM researchers how to conduct basic impact assessments.
- Pollinator Protection in the Pacific
The need to protect and conserve beneficial insects - especially pollinators - is being increasingly recognized. The Western IPM Center led the Pacific Pollinator Protection Program, a Center signature project, to help Pacific Island growers protect these valuable species.
- Water Quality Protection
To protect water sources from pollution by pesticides, one of the first Western IPM Center signature projects created training materials for proper pesticide application for agriculture, professional landscapers and homeowners. In a little more than one year, the slides were downloaded 106 times in 20 U.S. states and one Canadian province, and used to train more than 1,400 people.
- Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle
In 2015, the Invasive Species Insects Subgroup focused on coconut rhinoceros beetle, an invasive insect spreading across the Pacific. In March of that year, a work group gathered after the Hawaiian Entomological Society meeting to share the latest information and research on the beetle.
- IPM Training Program Targets Young Ag Professionals in the Pacific Northwest
Identification of pests and beneficials is one of the first principles of integrated pest management, and the core of a train-the-trainers program that’s been successfully improving the skills of young ag professionals in rural Oregon, Washington and Idaho since 2009.
- Soil Solarization in the Pacific Northwest
Organic vegetable growers may finally have an economical way to manage weeds other than slow and costly hand weeding. That solution is soil solarization – a technique proven effective in hotter climates, but new plastics and research are showing it can also work in the cooler Pacific Northwest.
- VIDEO: Alfalfa Seed, Alkali Bees and IPM
- VIDEO: Washington alfalfa seed growers go to great lengths to protect the bees that pollinate their crop. Those bees are native alkali bees that live undreground in the Walla Walla Valley, and leaf cutter bees they import from Canada.
- VIDEO: Teaching IPM through the Diagnostic Lab at Montana State
Every sample that comes to the Schutter Diagnostic Lab at Montana State University is an opportunity to teach someone else about integrated pest management.
- VIDEO: Why Growers Embrace Salmon-Safe Farming
- In growing numbers, farmers in the Walla Walla Valley are embracing salmon-safe farming practices to better manage their land, benefit local rivers - and get higher prices for their products.
- VIDEO: Safflower Makes an Areawide IPM Program Work
In Kings County, California, safflower is an important rotational crop that improves the soil health and makes farming more productive. It's also the key to an areawide IPM program that manages pests and reduces pesticide sprays.
- VIDEO: Functional Agricultural Biodiversity
- Farmers embracing functional agricultural biodiversity incorporate habitat for beneficial insects and wildlife on their farms - and benefit from the ecosystem service that habitat provides.
- Powdery Mildew Control in Oregon Hops: The (Pint) Glass is Half Full
When the fungal disease powdery mildew first appeared in hop yards in Oregon in the late 1990s, it was devastating from both a production and integrated pest management standpoint. In the 20 years since that initial outbreak, researchers and growers have learned a lot about the disease and how to manage it. Just in the past few years, fungicide applications have dropped about 40 percent.
- VIDEO: Planting Flower Strips for Native Bees
- Montana State University researchers discuss flower strips of nine native plants that provide habitat for native bees and an additional income source for farmers who can collect and sell the flower seeds.
- VIDEO: Training Ag Professionals in IPM
A multi-state program in the Columbia River Basin is improving agricultural practices by training young ag professionals in integrated pest management.
- VIDEO: Powdery Mildew in Oregon Hops
VIDEO: Hops growers in Oregon have been battling powdery mildew for nearly 20 years. But new research into the fungal disease has already cut fungicide application by 40 percent, and shows the potential of a coordinated, areawide approach in essentially eliminating it.
- Are Birds an Economic Pest on Northwest Dairies? New Research Aims to Find Out
That birds can be a pest for fruit growers is no surprise. But what about to cows? Are birds a pest on dairies? Do they bother the milk cows? And do they cause economic losses? Researchers in Washington state are trying to find out.
- Eco-Label Programs Promote IPM, but Aren't Perfect
Eco-label programs have clear benefits and promote more sustainable pest-management and growing practices. They also provide certain benefits for growers but have downsides as well. Significant differences between the programs can make judging eco labels challenging for consumers, and with dozens of similar yet competing certification programs and standards, chaos is likely for the foreseeable future.
- Idaho Researchers Embrace Collaboration
- Anyone who complains about university research being too theoretical or Ivory Tower hasn't visited the University of Idaho Aberdeen Research and Extension Center. There, multi-disciplinary teams regularly work together on complex investigations into pests of the state's important crops like potatoes, wheat and barley.
- Identify Herbicide Damage to Crops and Ornamental Plants
- Identifying nontarget crop and ornamental plant damage from herbicides has become much easier, with the launch of a new online photo repository by the University of California Statewide IPM Program.
- VIDEO: Urban Farm Pest Pressures and Solutions
- Learn about the pest pressures faced by urban farmers -- and how integrated pest management provides economical solutions -- with Ariel Agenbroad, Local Food & Farms Advisor with University of Idaho Extension.
- VIDEO: Where to Get Good Gardening Advice
- In this video, Ariel Agenbroad from University of Idaho offers great tips for home gardeners about where to get good pest-management advice.
- 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.
- Helping Native Bees and Other Pollinators Thrive in New Mexico
Gardeners, growers, land managers, school groundskeepers and others in New Mexico now have a few new ways to help honeybees and native wild bees thrive.