2004Letter from the Director
IPM Continues Impressive Work Despite Budget Challenge
Growers are being increasingly squeezed by regulatory pressure on issues of air and water quality related to pest management practices. For example, a lawsuit was filed against the state in May over the contributions of pesticides to smog. In many cases, tools such as pheromones, microbial pesticides, other biological pesticides, parasite release, or modified cultural practices are available to address these problems; but growers need guidance to successfully use these methods, which often require more precise monitoring, application timing, and integration. The UC IPM Program has intensified its efforts to help growers implement new practices and reduce environmental impacts.
Staff in Davis and IPM advisors in the counties have worked intensively this year with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) of the USDA, in support of its new pest management initiatives. The NRCS invests about $45 million per year with growers in California for conservation purposes, so this is an excellent opportunity to reduce the use of higher risk pesticides.
Supported by funds from NRCS, we have developed year-round IPM plans that show key practices for reducing pesticide risks to the environment, organized and integrated seasonally. In addition, our Web site includes a new database that compares the potential water quality risks of the pesticides recommended in the UC IPM Pest Management Guidelines.
Praise for the year-round IPM plans and water quality database has been pouring in. Almond growers using these practices have reduced dormant season applications, which are the most troublesome for water quality, by 77 percent.
Although our state funds have been sharply cut, the USDA-funded program on Exotic Pests and Diseases was renewed for $1.7 million and is funding research on insects, weeds, and diseases in terrestrial and marine natural ecosystems, agriculture and urban environments, and in risk assessment to help prevent the establishment of new pests that are not native to California. Urban pest management more broadly continues to be a key focus of the UC IPM Program, with new tools being developed for management of ants and weeds.
One major change this year has been the relocation of pesticide safety training from the IPM Program to the UC Davis Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety. Pat OíConnor-Marer retired in September after serving 17 years as director of the Pesticide Safety Education Program. With the loss of Patís irreplaceable expertise, and expiration of grant funding for the other staff in the Pesticide Safety Education Program (PSEP), it was unfortunately not sustainable to maintain PSEP within the IPM Program. During Patís tenure, UC IPM gained a national reputation for its pesticide safety educational materials and hands-on training programs.
Despite the challenges, the IPM Program will continue to try to expand research and education for IPM, and improve coordination of the pest management activities of all agencies in California.
— Rick Roush