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Research and IPM

Grants Programs: UC IPM Competitive Research

The UC Statewide IPM Program administers a state-funded competitive research grants program, launched in 1979, to develop, promote, and implement IPM programs in California. The funds are for applied research programs usually spanning one to three years. The research results are intended to enable growers and other pest management practitioners to make better IPM decisions.

Goals and priorities
Proposal and approval process

Goals and priorities

The goal of this grants program is to support research that develops and promotes IPM programs in California.

Proposals may be submitted for any commodity or pest management situation, but should address one or more aspects of the UC IPM mission:

  • Increase utilization of ecologically based integrated pest management programs.
  • Provide leadership in IPM and build coalitions and partnerships that link with communities and public agencies.
  • Increase the predictability and effectiveness of pest management techniques.
  • Develop science-based pest management programs that are economically and environmentally sustainable, and socially appropriate.
  • Protect human health and reduce pesticide impact on the environment.

IPM review panels review proposals in these six research areas:

  • Applied field biology
  • Biological controls
  • Biorational use of biotic agents or chemicals
  • Cultural controls
  • Decision support
  • Air and water quality

Research areas

A panel is appointed to review projects in each of several different research areas. Each review panel sets funding criteria and priorities in its research area. Especially encouraged are interdisciplinary projects and projects involving both Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension personnel. Special consideration is given to projects that seek to evaluate impacts of UC IPM research or seek to assess economic impact of specific IPM techniques or programs. The current research areas are:

Applied field ecology

Research in the area of applied field ecology focuses on the interactions among pests, their hosts, their biocontrol agents, the beneficial biota, and environmental factors that affect pest population dynamics, survival, and crop damage. The emphasis is on applied ecology with attention given to the understanding of how pest–host and weed–crop interactions, and biocontrol agents are affected by both abiotic and biotic factors. Studies might determine the environmental factors that affect the ability of the biocontrol agent to effectively suppress pest populations or develop a better understanding of the mechanisms by which the biocontrol agent suppresses pests. Laboratory studies are expected to be closely related to field experimentation. Because of the general nature of field ecology, it is expected that projects here would include components found in other research categories. For example, studies on the interactions among organisms would involve the development and use of monitoring techniques. Possible research areas include studying dynamics of pest populations or natural enemy and antagonist populations, development or improvement of optimal cropping-system design, host–pest–environment interaction studies, or research on the mechanisms affecting interactions between organisms.

Highest priority will be given to field-oriented research that demonstrates a high potential to lead to control of pests or a significant reduction in pesticide use.

Biological controls

Biological control is narrowly defined here as the use of predators, parasites, pathogens, competitors, or antagonists to control a pest. Proposals should address those problems that have a reasonable chance of implementation within three years. An area of special interest for IPM funding is work to establish effective biological control in field situations. UC IPM would support studies of indigenous or introduced biological control agents to determine their efficacy, how they can be manipulated by cultural or other management practices to improve their efficacy, or how they are affected by pesticides. UC IPM would support development of methods for growers and PCAs to use in evaluating potential effectiveness of existing biological control agents in relation to pest populations and potential crop damage.

Biorational use of biotic agents or chemicals

This category includes development and evaluation of methods of applying or using biotic agents or regulated pest control materials more effectively and in an environmentally sound manner. Examples might include efficient production and quality control of biotic agents; application or delivery technology, effective application and use of plant growth regulators, pheromones, attractants, or repellents; methods of reducing the impact of pesticides on beneficial organisms; and methods of improving the safety, reducing environmental contamination, or reducing the total amount of the control agent needed for effective control. Research on biotic agents may include the development of technologies to maintain their survival and/or residual activity and to effectively deliver them to target sites. Research on the development and testing of environmentally safe chemicals will be considered if on-going research has shown that no reasonable alternatives exist and that there is a good potential for their use.

Highest priority will be given to research that involves materials that are environmentally benign.

Cultural controls

Cultural control methods include a broad range of normal management practices that can be modified or manipulated to manage one or more pest problems. Such factors as crop rotation, tillage, timing of planting and harvesting, cover crops, choice of cultivar and animal strains, fertilizer or irrigation practices, tail water and waste management, sanitation, solarization, and postharvest treatment of a commodity all have significant influences on pest species prevalence, development, damage, and survival. Relatively small changes in even one practice, e.g., the early harvesting of almonds, can have significant impacts on pest damage.

Decision support

The UC IPM Program will consider projects whose aim is the development and promotion of decision systems useful in crop production and pest management. General areas of such work might include but are not limited to development or improvement of sampling or detection methods, quantification of crop loss, development or improvement of damage thresholds or action levels, risk assessment, economic or other evaluation of IPM programs, development or evaluation of expert systems or other computer models.

Development of monitoring programs for pests and biological control agents involving sampling decision rules, control action thresholds, or improved methods for quantifying pest abundance or potential crop loss can significantly reduce the riskiness of pest control, reduce the number of pesticide applications, and improve adoption of new practices. Control action threshold research should be based on the relationship of pest occurrence or abundance to measurable crop loss in order to ensure cost-effective decisions.

Highest priority will be given to proposals that will produce programs that can be easily and directly used in the implementation of integrated pest management; will focus on a biological system that has had sufficient preliminary investigation to allow completion and validation of the program in a reasonable amount of time; and will involve principal investigators who have demonstrated experience in systems modeling or systems management.

Air and water quality

Among the most pressing problems faced by growers in California, currently and over the next few years, are increasing regulations related to air and water quality, including pesticides and dust. In many cases, cost-effective alternatives to the regulated practices and pesticides are not yet known, yet the effects of the regulations on growers are potentially expensive, widespread, and imminent. Proposals submitted in this area must focus on pest management needs in support of these new and anticipated regulations. These regulatory issues are summarized in A Key Focus for Pest Management: Regulatory Issues for Water and Air Quality.

Proposals should specifically describe which regulatory concerns will be addressed and how, and priority will be given to proposals likely to have the most significant impact on improving compliance with regulations.

In the area of pest management and air quality, we encourage projects related to:

  • reducing the use of organophosphate and pyrethroid insecticides near water bodies listed on California’s 303(d) list .
  • improved sampling methods for plant pathogens and nematodes and/or treatment thresholds that would provide a threshold-based rationale for fumigant treatment;
  • alternatives to fumigants or other methods to reduce the amount of fumigant used per acre, such as methods to contain fumigants;
  • alternatives to EC formulations to chlorpyrifos on crops which use significant chlorpyrifos currently;
  • pest management interventions that could reduce dust-producing activities, such as alternatives to plowdown for pink bollworm and reduced cultivation for weed management.

Proposal and approval process

The Statewide IPM Program announces its annual grants proposal schedule in October and issues a request for new proposals. Investigators, at least one of whom must be a UC DANR academic staff member, submit proposals to the Program director by the deadline (currently in December). IPM review panels review the proposals for scientific merit and make funding recommendations to the technical committee. The technical committee considers the evaluations across panels, and makes recommendations to the Program director. The Program director makes and announces the final funding decisions, and funding begins in July.

Review panels. Each review panel consists of up to eight members, appointed by the director of the Statewide IPM Program for three-year terms. The members are drawn from diverse pest management and production disciplines as well as the Agricultural Experiment Station on each campus and Cooperative Extension. The chair (sometimes co-chairs) of each review panel serves on the technical committee.

Technical committee. The technical committee, chaired by the UC IPM Director, is composed of the IPM review panel chairs and/or co-chairs, plus three UC Statewide IPM Program personnel: the extension IPM coordinator, IPM education and publications director, and the information systems manager. This committee receives the review panel evaluations and recommendations, reviews and prioritizes them across panels, and makes funding recommendations to the Program director.


The Program annually distributes approximately $620,000 to research projects. Although the Project sets no maximum limitations, in recent years the annual award for a single project has ranged from $5,000 to $45,000. Projects normally should be completed within three years.

UC IPM will distribute funds to University of California units soon after July 1. Where external PIs or cooperators are part of the project and will receive funding, UC ANR PIs are responsible for distribution of funds to the external individual or organization.

Proposals are funded on a year-to-year basis. Multiple-year projects are conditionally approved for subsequent years, pending receipt of an acceptable progress report. An annual progress report, financial reports, and justification for continuing funds must be submitted during each year of funding; a final report is due approximately six months following termination of the project.


Since 1979, the first year of the grants program, the Statewide IPM Program has funded many projects. Current research areas are applied field biology, biological controls, biorational use of biotic agents or chemicals, cultural controls, decision support, and air and water quality. Research areas from 1986 to 1991 were biological controls, commodity-pest interaction, cultural controls, monitoring systems, and systems application. Prior to 1986, most research projects were reviewed by commodity: alfalfa, almonds, apples, grapes, citrus, cotton, tomatoes, and walnuts.

Analysis. Research results of the UC IPM projects funded from 1979 through 1999 are analyzed in two published papers: "Research Results: Statewide IPM's First 10 Years" and "Products of UC IPM Research — A Survey of Funded Projects (1989-1999)."

Progress reports and final reports. Principal investigators submit a progress report in January. At the completion of their project, they submit a final report by the following January. Progress and final reports since 1995 are detailed in the research projects database.

Research projects database. The research projects database can be searched by host, pest, discipline, funding years, and principal investigator. Objectives are listed for each project funded since 1979. Projects funded since 1995 include a summary of progress.

Annual reports. The summaries of research projects funded each year are also listed in the UC IPM Program's annual reports, dating back to 1995:
2005 ~ 2004 ~ 2003 ~ 2002 ~ 2001 ~ 2000 ~ 1999 ~ 1998 ~ 1997 ~ 1996 ~ 1995

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