1998IPM in Action
UC IPM Researcher Develops Alternative to Methyl Bromide Soil Fumigation
A group of UC Kearney Agricultural Center researchers, headed by IPM Advisor Jim Stapleton, has been working for the past three years to develop a nonchemical technique for ridding soil of nematode pests that are harmful to nursery plants. The treatment, which can be used as an alternative to methyl bromide soil fumigation, uses a modification of the soil solarization process. A "double tent" of clear plastic tarps is placed over moist soil in nursery planting containers. When treated during the summer months in the hotter, inland climatic areas of California, soil in containers can be completely disinfested of plant-parasitic nematode pests within a one-week period. During experimental testing periods, the researchers have observed temperatures in the containerized soil of more than 168°F, which is equivalent to temperatures used in soil treatment with aerated steam, another alternative to methyl bromide fumigation. Results from the experiments have been passed on to the California Department of Food and Agriculture for development of a nursery soil certification protocol using the alternative technique.
Lucia Varela Wins Prestigious AAAS Award
IPM Advisor Lucia Varela has been awarded an Environmental Fellowship by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The fellowship is directed at demonstrating the value of involving research scientists in government and policy making. Lucia will spend a year in the Bio-pesticides and Pollution Prevention Division of the Office of Pesticide Programs at the US EPA in Washington D.C. helping to implement the Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program.
Demonstration of Geotextiles Impresses Landscapers
More and more, public use areas and schools are compelled to move away from the use of herbicides for weed control. Reasons for implementing a reduced-chemical approach range from economic (lack of trained personnel available to do the applications, taking personnel away from other tasks) to health and safety (health and environmental concerns). Even more mundane issues such as a desire to avoid brown or dead weeds that one may encounter after a postemergent herbicide spray are all motivations to move away from regular herbicide applications.
IPM Advisor Cheryl Wilen and Regional Environmental Horticulture Advisor Dennis Pittenger conducted a research and demonstration study to evaluate the use of various geotextiles (landscape fabrics) as one tool landscapers can immediately use to reduce or eliminate herbicide sprays.
Many landscapers commented that they are reluctant to use the geotextiles because of initial cost. However, when they were able to actually see the amount of weed reduction as well as improvement in plant growth compared to that of commonly used landscape herbicides, they were more likely to consider using geotextiles in their planting designs. This, and other methods of managing weeds in landscapes, is discussed in UC IPM Pest Notes: Weed Management in Landscapes on the UC IPM Web site.
Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter: A Potential Disaster in the Making for California Citrus
The glassy-winged sharpshooter (GWSS), Homalodisca coagulata, is a new potential pest of California citrus, but the seriousness of its impact is unknown. Since it first appeared in the early 1990s, the pest has spread from low densities in just a few orchards to very high densities in many citrus orchards in Ventura County. It has also become prevalent on a broad range of ornamentals and native plant species. Although GWSS is known to transmit the bacterial pathogen Xylella fastidiosa, the causal agent of Pierce's disease in grape, oleander scorch in oleander and also variegated chlorosis (CVC) of citrus in Brazil, there are no known citrus pathogens present in California that it could vector. However, if the CVC strain of Xyllella is introduced into California, the sharpshooter could pose a serious threat.
IPM Advisor Phil Philllips has been researching GWSS biology in Ventura County over the last two years to garner information necessary for a future IPM program. His research has focused on pest biology, host preferences, and potential biological control agents. He has identified a parasitic wasp, Gonatocerus ashmeadi, which can parasitize up to 100% of eggs during some times of the year. However, this parasite alone is not sufficient to prevent high levels of the pest earlier in the season. Additional biological control agents are needed, and Phillips hopes to be an active participant in the search for a biological solution. For more information, contact Phillips at firstname.lastname@example.org.
IPM Advisors Team Up with Prune Board to Reduce Pesticide and Fertilizer Use
IPM Advisors Carolyn Pickel and Walt Bentley, together with Butte County Farm Advisor Bill Olson, are coordinating a team of UC Cooperative Extension Farm Advisors who are comparing less chemically intensive management strategies with conventional methods in commercial prune orchards in the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys. Sponsored by the California Prune Board, this project seeks practical answers to real environmental problems. Each participating farm advisor has paired a demonstration site using less chemically intensive practices with a conventional management orchard.
The first step in minimizing unnecessary chemical inputs is maintaining a healthy tree and using scientifically established triggers for irrigation or fertilizer augmentation and pest control practices. Pesticide applications, if needed, must be applied based on monitoring protocols previously developed but not often followed by conventional growers. Biological control is being developed as a practical option for aphids as part of this project.
For each site and method, cooperators will keep records of pesticide use, cost of inputs, labor for monitoring, pest damage, and quality of harvested crop. At the end of the project, UC Cooperative Extension advisors will not only have data on how well the less chemically intensive management practices worked compared to conventional orchards, but they will also have demonstration sites to show growers in workshops how well alternatives controlled pests.
Pesticide Education Program Receives Grant to Develop Video
Pesticide Training Coordinator Patrick O'Connor-Marer and Farmworker Pesticide Training Coordinator Melanie Zavala have been awarded a two-year USDA grant to develop an interactive video package for training pesticide handlers and fieldworkers about pesticide safety. The completed materials will be distributed to pesticide training coordinators and state pesticide regulatory agencies throughout the U.S.
The project will include developing instructor materials to accompany the videos. The unique part of this training package will be its approach to using videos as interactive teaching tools. Most training videos extend information through passive means, resulting in low retention. Creating an interactive format with instructions and information for instructors overcomes many of the problems with using videos-based training programs.
Health Care Providers to Receive Training in Pesticide-Related Illnesses and Injuries
The Pesticide Education Program is introducing a new train-the-trainer workshop series for health care providers. The courses will be offered to people who are interested in extending pesticide illness and injury information to medical staff working with the agricultural community.
Workshop participants will receive instruction on the methods and importance of reporting pesticide-related illness and injuries and information on the resources available to assist with recognizing and treating such cases. Information on effective training techniques and educational materials will also be provided to help participants develop interesting and effective programs for medical personnel.
This project is a joint effort of the UC Agricultural Health and Safety Center and the Center for Environmental Health Sciences, with funding provided by both centers. Staff from the California Department of Health Services, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, rural health clinics, county health offices, and county agricultural commissioner offices are participating in the project. The workshops are scheduled to take place in Salinas on November 12, 1998 and in Parlier on December 10, 1998.
The models are still in various stages of development, but several, including blackmold and powdery mildew on processing tomato and powdery mildew on grapes, are already in use by growers. Others also show promise for reducing the number of sprays by recognizing when conditions are not right for disease development.
This season, weather data from 35 stations and calculations for several disease indices have been available on the UC IPM World Wide Web site. Data are routinely collected and quality controlled by UC IPM, then distributed over the Web.
California PestCast, coordinated by Joyce Strand at UC IPM and funded by Department of Pesticide Regulation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, UC IPM, and the agricultural industry, is completing its third year of supporting disease model validation trials. A comprehensive report on the status of disease modeling in California, including information on how to use models that have been shown to work in our environments, is being prepared for publication in the winter.
Stopping Insects Before They Become Pests
The idea of placing an alternate host in a field of cotton to reduce pest pressure is not new. For more than three decades, strips of alfalfa have been planted in a few California cotton fields to protect cotton from lygus bug. However, the incompatibility of cotton and alfalfa production limited use of the practice. IPM Advisor Pete Goodell looked at the potential for reducing the migration threat of lygus bugs with black-eyed beans. Using small plot replicated field trials, Pete noted that lygus preferred beans to cotton. Taking this concept to the field, large demonstrations were conducted on seven farms in Fresno County. Strips of black-eyed beans were planted on the upwind border of cotton. The strips slowed lygus migration, limited their area of invasion, and provided a "killing zone" in which insecticides could be applied over a much smaller acreage. By treating only the area where lygus were concentrated, the remainder of the field maintained natural enemy populations to recolonize the treated area. This practice has been well received by growers. Beans fit into cotton culture very easily and do not require changes in agronomic practices. Over a thousand acres of San Joaquin Valley cotton utilized this approach in 1998, resulting in insecticide savings, improved timing of applications, and preservation of natural enemies.
Pest Notes Reach a Wide, Appreciative Audience
A survey of UC Cooperative Extension offices revealed that the UC IPM Project's four-year-old Pest Notes series has been a real boon to UC Cooperative Extension county personnel who respond to pest questions from the general public. County offices reported that they distribute an average of 600 copies per month statewide and praised the technical level, depth of coverage, and layout quality of the Notes. All reported that the publications are well received by the public and very useful to office staff. Many offices were eager for more Pest Notes to be written and listed high priority topics for future releases.
Since 1994, when IPM Education and Publications initiated the Pest Notes series, nearly 60 have been written. All are short, 2- to 4-page publications on specific home, garden, landscape, and nonagricultural pest problems. Some are compiled by UC IPM Project staff and many others are written by UC specialists and advisors. All Pest Notes are peer reviewed, UC DANR publications. Many replace old Extension publications that have not been updated since the 1970s. They are distributed by UC Cooperative Extension offices and are also available on the UC IPM Project Web site. UC IPM's Barbara Ohlendorf coordinates the series with Peg Brush handling design and production. Shawn King conducted the survey.
IPM Advisors Help Coordinate Pest Management Alliances
In August 1998, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation announced
Pest Management Alliance grants to fund several large-scale projects aimed at
reducing pesticide risks. The Alliances involve different mixes of growers,
nongovernment organizations, agencies, consultants, and University of
California Cooperative Extension participants. Funded projects were selected to
address some of the most important issues in pest management including the
federal Food Quality Protection Act, ground and surface water contamination,
and pesticide drift. Several IPM Project staff including Carolyn Pickel, Walt
Bentley, Lucia Varela, and Frank Zalom are active participants in one or more
of the following funded Alliance projects:
The IPM Project has been involved in many such partnerships over the years, and these new Alliances will permit renewed efforts to implement many of the pest management practices developed through University of California research.
Overhauling Expectations for New PCAs
Pattie Gouveia and Mary Louise Flint of IPM Education and Publications are coordinating an ambitious project to develop knowledge standards for newly licensed Pest Control Advisers. Working with dozens of UC scientists and practicing PCAs with expertise in the seven professional licensing areas, Gouveia and Flint have put together Knowledge Expectations (KEs) that will provide the basis for a new curriculum for pest management students. They are also coordinating the writing of new exam questions based on the KEs by experts throughout the state. The licensing agency, California Department of Pesticide Regulation, is an active cooperator in this project and has begun to post the new KEs on their Web site. Funded through grants from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, CDPR, and U.S. Department of Agriculture, the project grew out of a concern expressed by practicing PCAs, policymakers, and others that the old exams and study guides did not give enough emphasis to the ecological and interdisciplinary knowledge required to carry out today's IPM programs. A new IPM study guide for California PCAs will be released in 1999.
Over 45 Research Projects Sponsored by UC IPM in 1998
Twenty-nine research projects by UC faculty and Cooperative Extension scientists throughout the state were funded for the 1998-99 year through the UC IPM Project Research Grants program. These include projects in applied field ecology, biological control, biorational use of materials, cultural controls, and decision support in commodities ranging from poultry houses, rangeland, and turf to tomatoes, cotton, and pears. Thirteen other projects ended in 1998. Fifteen USDA-ES Smith-Lever IPM grants were given to projects that were directed at demonstrating and implementing IPM methods. A number of disease forecasting projects received equipment and logistic support from the IPM Project through the PestCast program. Proposal deadlines and proposal formats can be found on the UC IPM Web site.