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.

Progress against Onion Pests

A recent 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.



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.



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.

 


Center Funding Helps Develop a Better Way to Control Prionus Beetles

Hops 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.



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. Insects, like many other organisms, develop according to the temperature around them and degree days are a way to measure accumulated temperature.

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.



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.



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.



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: 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.



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.



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: 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.



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.



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.



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.



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.”



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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. 



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 charts in English, Mandarin, Tagalog and Thai.