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.

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. The good news is that 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, in part through research funded by the Western IPM Center, fungicide applications in Oregon hops have dropped about 40 percent.



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 – trapping the sun’s energy under a layer of plastic to heat the soil enough to kill pathogens and weeds. It’s a technique proven effective in hotter climates, but new plastics and research are showing it can also work in the cooler Pacific Northwest.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.