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Research and IPM

Analysis of UC IPM Research Results: 1989-1999

The UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Project funded 194 research grants from 1989 through 1999. This research paper surveys the results of those funded projects. Another paper, "Research Results: Statewide IPM's First 10 Years," examines the research results for the first decade, 1979-1988.

Products of UC IPM Research—A Survey of Funded Projects (1989-1999)

By Karen Klonsky, Ben Shouse, and Frank Zalom

Response rates
Research outcomes and pest management focus

Impacts of UC IPM-funded research
Research tables
About the authors


During the past decade, the UC Statewide IPM Project funded 194 research grants. These grants covered 45 different crops or sites in contrast to a few targeted crops during the project's first 10 years, but reflected a more narrow disciplinary focus as well. A survey of principal investigators receiving UC IPM grants revealed the extent of their interactions with growers, commodity groups, agencies, pest control advisors, and various units within UC. Most funded research projects yielded published results, and almost half resulted in information used to obtain support for subsequent research projects. The intended outcomes of most projects were reduced pesticide use and improved pest control, providing a research base for the development of future cropping systems.


The University of California Statewide IPM Project (UC IPM), part of the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, was established in 1979 to develop and promote integrated pest management (IPM) programs. Goals of the UC IPM Project include developing and promoting pest management strategies and tactics which reduce the pesticide load in the environment; increase the predictability and effectiveness of pest control techniques; and are economically, environmentally and socially acceptable; to marshal agencies and disciplines into IPM programs, and to increase utilization of natural pest controls.

Recognizing that successfully addressing these goals requires a solid research base, the UC IPM Project funds research projects through a competitive grants program to develop strategies and tactics consistent with UC IPM goals. The funded projects often bring results of the competitive research projects directly to the end user since the majority of the projects are conducted on farms or in landscapes, and researchers submitting proposals are encouraged to involve UC IPM Advisors and county-based University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Farm Advisors as cooperators or co-investigators. This paper reports on the funding procedure, scope, accomplishments, and directions of the UC IPM Competitive Grants Program over the 10-year period spanning 1989 through 1999.

John Menge of the Department of Plant Pathology at UC Riverside (UCR) served as Associate Director for Research since 1997. The Associate Director works with the UC IPM Project Director to oversee the annual process of requesting and reviewing proposals submitted by UC researchers, tracking the progress of funded projects, and identifying individuals who serve on the UC IPM Workgroups which review the proposals. Philip Roberts, Department of Nematology, UCR, and Joseph Morse, Department of Entomology, UCR, have also served as Associate Directors for Research within the past 10 years.

The work of reviewing research progress and new proposals submitted each year falls to members of the five IPM Workgroups (see Research workgroups of the UC IPM Project, 1989-99), which currently emphasize the areas of

  1. applied field ecology
  2. biological controls
  3. biorational use of biotic agents or chemicals
  4. cultural controls
  5. decision support

Proposals are typically funded for a two-or three-year period. Over the period reviewed in this study, UC IPM awarded a total of $7.7 million. Members of the IPM Workgroups represent a diverse group of scientists from the Berkeley, Davis, and Riverside campuses, as well as from UCCE county offices and the USDA. They come from both pest management and production backgrounds, and are appointed for three-year terms. Ninety-three individuals participated as workgroup members during this period, with the majority coming from the Riverside and Davis campuses (36 and 35, respectively). The chairs of the IPM Workgroups along with IPM Project managers comprise the Technical Committee which is chaired by the Associate Director for Research. The Technical Committee advises the Director on allocation of research funds.

The focuses of the workgroups are reviewed periodically by an ad hoc committee that meets with the IPM Technical Committee to identify needs and to suggest research areas. The ad hoc committee includes representatives of pest control advisor organizations, commodity boards, organic growers, biological control producers, environmental groups, food processors, the agrichemical industry, the USDA, and state regulatory agencies.

Response rates

We received completed surveys from 78 percent of the principal investigators (PIs) to whom surveys were mailed representing 153 (79%) of the 194 projects that received IPM grants between 1989 and 1999. Some surveys were not returned because the investigators had retired, were no longer associated with UC, or are deceased. The distribution of projects across major commodity groups was essentially the same for the projects covered by the survey respondents as for the universe of all funded projects Table 1. Further, the survey respondents were a representative sample of all PIs with respect to area of specialization and institutional affiliation (Tables 2 and 3). Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that the responses to survey questions are representative of all funded projects since approximately the same commodities, disciplines, and institutions are included.

During the 10-year period research projects covered 45 different commodities in marked contrast to the first 10 years of the program when 80 percent of the projects targeted one of a few commodities which were the focus of the original UC IPM Workgroups: alfalfa, citrus, tomatoes, cotton, rice, grapes, walnuts, and cereals. The distribution of research projects among major commodity groups shows that almost two-thirds of the projects concerned either field crops, fruit and nut crops, or vegetable crops (Table 1). The remaining projects focused on livestock, nursery and flower crops, and urban or landscape pests. Fifteen percent of projects did not specify a commodity or commodity group, and instead dealt with general techniques.


Forty-five percent of the funded research projects drew investigators primarily from the discipline of entomology while another 21 percent were plant pathology projects (Table 2). Most of the funded research projects (70%) were collaborative projects, managed by two or more investigators. While only 17 (9%) projects involved principal investigators from different academic disciplines, 49 projects (25%) involved principal investigators from different institutions (Tables 2 and 3. The rates of interdisciplinary cooperation and cross-institutional studies were lower than during the first 10 years of the program, when rates of 38 percent and 36 percent respectively, were identified (Grieshop & Pence, 1990). From these results, it appears that collaboration of principal investigators is more likely to occur within disciplines but across institutions as researchers look beyond their own institutions to find co-investigators with the necessary technical expertise and interests to develop IPM research proposals.

Usually other people act as cooperators in a research project and may play a key role in its success. Principal investigators reported receiving assistance from a variety of cooperators (Table 4). Notable among these were UCCE Farm Advisors who were frequent participants in every stage of the research process. They were seldom principal investigators on proposals, although they provided more assistance than the other individuals or groups in developing proposals, managing field trials, and collecting data. Individual growers were instrumental in providing field trial space for more than half of the IPM projects, and these growers assisted in managing about half of those field trials. Growers participated in the development of research proposals primarily through commodity groups. However, growers were much less likely to be involved in data collection or interpretation of the results. Of other individuals and organizations outside of UC, representatives of commodity groups were twice as likely as growers, public agencies, or state-licensed pest control advisors (PCAs) to be involved in research proposal development, but none of these groups participated in more than 10 percent of proposals in terms of field trial management, data collection, or interpretation of results. Of individuals within UC, principal investigators received assistance from UC Senate faculty and UCCE Specialists about equally in both research proposal development and in interpreting research results.

Research outcomes and pest management focus

The products of the funded research projects include publications and pest control tools which are directly applicable to agricultural production and also spawn further scientific research. UC IPM research projects resulted in 480 publications from 63 percent of those funded. These publications included 220 that were accepted in peer reviewed journals. World Wide Web-based publications emerged from 10 percent of the projects (Table 5). Virtually unknown 10 years ago, Web-based dissemination of information will undoubtedly continue to expand.

Thirty percent of the projects resulted in nonchemical pest control procedures and less than 10 percent developed chemical pest control procedures, reflecting the general goal of UC IPM to develop strategies and tactics that permit pest managers and growers to move away from the use of synthetic organic pesticides towards biorational materials and other risk-reducing approaches (Table 5). Developing decision-making protocols and sampling procedures continues to be important outcomes of IPM research. Fewer resources were directed to actually developing computer programs for use by clientele than in the first 10 years of the program. This may reflect increasing sophistication of the general public in using software such as spreadsheets for their own decision making, and increased use of public and private agriculturally focused sites on the World Wide Web.

Beyond these outcomes, half of respondents reported that products of their research had been used in-field, either by growers or PCAs. Most often, the tools and techniques developed were useful to both growers and PCAs. In addition, almost 60 percent of the projects enabled investigators to obtain subsequent funding for future research (Table 6), an intent of the UC IPM research grants program since its inception.

During the 1990s, the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service began to classify growers' approaches to pest control as prevention, avoidance, monitoring, and suppression, and this has become one tool in the measurement of IPM adoption. Preventative measures act to decrease the likelihood of an infestation through techniques such as using pest-free planting material, sanitation of equipment, destroying overwintering habitat for insects, and irrigation scheduling to avoid disease infestations. Avoiding exposure to pests includes practices such as planting resistant varieties, crop rotation to break pest cycles, and choosing planting locations that are relatively pest free. Monitoring is typically used in conjunction with suppression methods, and consists of gathering information and assessing the risk of economic damage before making a control decision. Suppression methods are used in response to a pest outbreak to prevent economically damaging pest levels.

More than three-fourths of the research projects included pest suppression as a research outcome (Table 7) and 40 percent exclusively addressed pest suppression. The most common suppression method investigated was biocontrol/natural enemies (38% of projects), followed by chemical pesticides (14%) and organically acceptable microbial and botanical pesticides (13%). More than one-third of the projects included monitoring or decision making procedures as a research outcome. One-fifth of the projects focused on avoidance practices such as use of resistant cultivars in an IPM program, crop rotation, timing of harvest, and trap crops, while another fifth focused on developing cultural practices used for prevention.

Impacts of UC IPM funded research

Principal investigators were asked to identify expected impacts of their research projects in terms of certain UC IPM project goals and specific pesticide related issues. Almost three-quarters of the projects were intended to reduce pesticide use, and two-thirds of the projects were intended to improve pest control (Table 8). More than one-third of the projects were intended to lower the cost of pest control, increase the social acceptability of pest control systems, increase the use of natural controls, or provide pest management methods for organic production. It appears that investigators prefer to think of the intended impacts of their research in general terms as relatively fewer investigators identified their research as impacting specific issues such as the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) (26%), alternatives to methyl bromide (16%) or water quality (16%). This is interesting since it follows that research intended to reduce pesticide use would also address an issue like FQPA.


The UC IPM Competitive Grants Program has clearly facilitated problem-solving research consistent with its mission and general goals. The number of commodities targeted and the range of techniques explored reveals a broad program rich in diverse approaches and activities. The analysis presented here accurately describes interactions of principal investigators with their individual and institutional cooperators, tallies the number of publications and management tools generated by the research, characterizes the types of pest management approaches, and reflects the issues addressed. It is not intended to measure the adoption of techniques. Rather, it provides a measure of what researchers are attempting to achieve in IPM and describes the pest management research base upon which California growers and pest managers may build future cropping or landscape systems.

The regulatory atmosphere that has evolved over the last decade to emphasize soft and risk-reducing approaches reflects society's continuing concern for environmental and health impacts of continued use of broad-spectrum synthetic pesticides. Similar concerns brought about the establishment of the UC IPM Project and continue to drive its research grants program. No doubt IPM research will continue to help growers and pest managers to successfully meet challenges posed by issues such as FQPA, loss of methyl bromide, establishment of total maximum daily load (TMDL) programs for water quality, and, of course, profitability.

A challenge of the UC IPM Competitive Grants Program over the next 10 years will be to set priorities that will enable the development of soft and risk-reducing approaches that can be practically implemented by farmers and other pest control practitioners in California.

Research workgroups of the UC IPM Project, 1989-99
Workgroup Workgroup chairs Scope of research area
Applied Field Ecology

J. DiTomaso, UCD
R. Goeden, UCR
J. Holt, UCR
C. Summers, UCB/UCD

Interactions among pests, their hosts, their biocontrol agents, and the environmental factors that affect pest population dynamics and crop damage.
Biological Controls

K. Daane, UCB
D. Dahlsten, UCB
L. Epstein, UCD/UCB
N. Mills, UCB
J. Rosenheim, UCD

The use of predators, parasites, pathogens, competitors, or antagonists to control a pest.
Biorational Use of Biotic Agents or Synthetic Chemicals M. Davis, UCD
J. Hancock, UCB
S. Lindow, UCB
M. Schroth, UCB
Development of methods to use biotic agents or synthetic pesticides more effectively, compatibly with other control tactics, and in an environmentally sound manner.
Cultural Controls E. Grafton-Cardwell, UCR
B. Kirkpatrick, UCD
T. Lanini, UCD
S. Welter, UCB
Nonchemical management practices intended to prevent pest problems or reduce their impact. Examples include crop rotation, tillage, irrigation management, vegetation management, mulches, and solarization.
Decision Support E. Caswell-Chen, UCD
D. Cooksey, UCR
H. Ferris, UCD
Development and promotion of decision aids including sampling methods, risk assessment, computer models, and economic analysis of management approaches.
UCD=UC Davis
UCR=UC Riverside
UCB=UC Berkeley


Grieshop, J. I., and R. A. Pence. 1990. Research results: Statewide IPM's first 10 years. California Agriculture 44(5): 24-26.

About the authors

Karen Klonsky is an Extension Specialist with the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of California, Davis. Ben Shouse is a Post-Graduate Researcher with the Agricultural Issues Center, a UC statewide program. Frank Zalom is an Extension Specialist and Entomologist in the Experiment Station with the Department of Entomology, University of California, Davis, and served as the director of the UC Statewide IPM Project from 1988 through 2001.

Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
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