Agriculture

Here are some of the IPM projects, innovations and research benefitting agriculture in the West. Projects listed here are not necessarily funded by the Western IPM Center.

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.



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.



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.



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.



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. 



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.



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.



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: 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: 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: 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.



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.



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.



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.



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.

Beginning in 2001, University of Alaska researchers, cooperative extension specialists and hard-working growers around the state built a brand-new industry in Alaska and made peonies a year-round crop.



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.



Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle

In 2015, the Invasive Species Insects Subgroup focused on coconut rhinoceros beetle, an invasive insect spreading across the Pacific. In March 2015, a work group gathered after the Hawaiian Entomological Society meeting to share the latest information and research on the beetle.



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.



Eco-Label Programs Promote IPM, but Aren't Perfect

There are dozens of eco labels and sustainable agriculture certification programs in the United States, all designed to differentiate products in the marketplace and assure consumers that this apple, potato or bottle of wine was produced in an environmentally responsible manner. 

And eco-label programs do have clear benefits and promote more sustainable pest-management and growing practices. They also provide certain benefits for growers. 

However, there are downsides for growers as well, and significant differences between the programs can make judging eco labels challenging for consumers. And with dozens of similar yet competing certification programs and standards, certification chaos is likely for the foreseeable future.

 


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.



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.



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.



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.