Delivery of Biological Control Information and Technology in Florida

Final Report for ES01-055

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2001: $49,919.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2003
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $44,030.00
Region: Southern
State: Florida
Principal Investigator:
James Cuda
University of Florida
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Project Information

Abstract:

The Integrated Pest Management/Biological Control (IPM/BC) program at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) delivered practical training in biological control and IPM as the preferred pest management strategy. This program improved the knowledge base of extension professionals by developing and implementing in-service training programs in biological control techniques and IPM protocols for conventional and organic growers, Master Gardeners and other pest consultants. The program developed educational materials for training extension professionals and producers on the biology and appropriate use of natural enemies and antagonists, and it furnished demonstration projects in the proper use of biological control agents. This program supported and drew from other existing State Major Programs.

Project Objectives:

BEHAVIOR-BASED OBJECTIVES (AS LISTED IN PROPOSAL)

1. Assist county faculty / mentoring groups in delivering information – synthesize, evaluate, integrate and apply information in support of county faculty; help identify audiences and technical needs; organize pertinent literature; describe biological control / IPM projects in the counties, successful and unsuccessful; and increase State Major Program (SMP) impact and efficiency.

2. Link extension specialists and researchers with county extension faculty – list SMP members; identify expertise on specific crops, pests and natural enemies; form multi-institutional partnerships for research and teaching; coordinate resources and expertise; establish goals, determine resource needs, monitor implementation, evaluate outcomes; and conduct annual meetings.

3. Enhance teaching of biological control / IPM – deliver training to county extension faculty, provide slide sets and PowerPoint presentations of pests and associated natural enemies, develop and disseminate other educational materials, and encourage team teaching.

4. Establish and maintain a biological control / IPM website – establish a listserv to facilitate and increase communication; maintain linkages to county, state, national and international IPM programs, and connect with Pest Alert, Featured Creatures, School IPM and other local sources of information. The website also will be a portal to relevant IFAS web-based information systems such as the Electronic Digital Information Source (EDIS), the Distance Diagnostic Information System (DDIS), and the Florida Automated Weather Network (FAWN) (UF-IFAS 1999).

5. Advance commercial biological control / IPM in Florida – Increase opportunities for biological control business in Florida, encourage technology transfer and natural enemy production and supply within the state, provide access to the greater biological control community, assist with regulatory process for importation and release of beneficial living organisms, and interface with county and state IPM programs.

6. Determine educational and technical needs and opportunities for biological control and IPM – conduct strategic planning and establish shared objectives for targeted pests, identify promising natural enemies, and make rapid progress in solving problems of Florida’s agricultural and non-agricultural clientele.

EXPECTED OUTCOMES

Developing effective training in biological control for IPM programs requires dedicated extension professionals and willing and cooperative growers. In order to succeed, growers must realize that implementing biological control as part of an IPM program is a more complex endeavor than simply treating pests when they occur. Therefore, the goals of this project are to:

a. Improve the understanding and appreciation of biological control and pesticide alternatives in the farming, gardening, natural resources and urban communities;

b. Reduce reliance on pesticides through the increased adoption of biological control and pesticide alternatives;

c. Develop an effective network of extension specialists, county faculty, and mentoring farmers dedicated to delivering biological control technology within the context of IPM to user groups;

d. Incorporate this pilot training program into the curriculum for the new Doctor of Plant Medicine degree program recently created at the University of Florida, and

e. If the project is successful in Florida, partner with the newly established regional Pest Management Center located in Florida to implement the training program in other southern states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Introduction:

After three decades of research and extension efforts in Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in the United States, IPM as it was envisioned in the 1970s currently is practiced on less than 8% of U.S. crop acreage (Ehler and Bottrell 2000). This figure falls well short of the national commitment to implement IPM that has its foundation in biological control on 75% of the total U.S. acreage by the year 2000 (Ehler and Bottrell 2000). The report by Ehler and Bottrell (2000) should serve as a wake-up call to all IPM practitioners.

According to this report, farm practices have changed very little since 1993 when a national IPM initiative was established to implement biologically based alternatives to pesticides for controlling arthropod pests, weeds and crop diseases. Biological control- the suppression of pests with natural enemies- was identified as a key component of the national IPM initiative. However, pesticides remain the primary tools of pest consultants and farmers because there was no incentive to adopt alternative strategies that required more effort to implement, produced unpredictable results, and required new knowledge (Zalom 1999, Ehler and Bottrell 2000). This finding is somewhat surprising because IPM will often result in substantial monetary savings by reducing pesticide applications when it is properly implemented. What is even more disturbing is the apparent lack of integration of compatible pest management practices, a violation of the original premise of IPM (Ehler and Bottrell 2000).

It is almost certain that pesticide use will decrease, if not voluntarily, then by statute in the wake of recent pesticide cancellations and the passage of the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996. When this decline in pesticide usage is coupled with the higher costs associated with new pesticide registrations, increasing levels of pesticide resistance, human and animal health risks, and concerns about consumption of contaminated food and water, the grower community will become more receptive to adopting biological control-based IPM practices. However,“. . .Training [of pest consultants] is simply inadequate for dealing with the ecological complexity and challenge of IPM. . .and the LGCAs [land grant colleges of agriculture] have failed to assume proper responsibility for a job that should be part of their mission. . .” (Ehler and Bottrell 2000). It is clear from this report that extension specialists must do a better job of providing county extension agents, conventional and organic growers, Master Gardeners and Naturalists, and other pest consultants with adequate training to enable them to effectively communicate and deliver to stakeholders- the farmer, land manager, producer, and homeowner- biological control practices that should be the foundation of all IPM programs.

Considerable effort has been devoted to developing biological control as a component of IPM programs in Florida because of its unique pest problems and crop production systems, sensitivity to chemical pollutants, and increased urbanization (Capinera et al. 1994, Rosen et al. 1996). However, in a recent assessment of county priorities in the program areas of agriculture, horticulture and natural resources, county faculty identified as a high priority the need for more information and training materials in biological control and IPM practices (Jacob et al. 1999). The appropriate response to this needs assessment is a coordinated statewide education and participatory training program that will enable all Florida citizens to benefit from advances in biological control in the context of IPM (App and Nell 1995). For example, better training in biological control techniques will empower small farmers to adopt biologically-based sustainable pest management practices (Knox and Crocker 1999), and will encourage greater farmer participation and information exchange in planning and implementing successful IPM programs (Swisher 1999). To achieve this goal, the University of Florida has partnered with the Center for Biological Control at Florida A&M University (FAMU) as well as state agencies (Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Florida’s Water Management Districts), federal research and education centers (USDA-ARS laboratories in Gainesville, Ft. Pierce, Ft. Lauderdale, Miami) and local industries (Entomos, US Suger, Walt Disney World) to develop a statewide framework for delivering biological control information and training in IPM to the agricultural, horticultural, public health, urban, and natural resource sectors.

The necessity for developing IPM protocols for Florida’s major plant and animal pests was underscored in a recent statewide initiative. In November 1999, the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) at the University of Florida launched Putting Florida FIRST –Focusing IFAS Resources on Solutions for Tomorrow (Florida FIRST 1999). The Florida FIRST initiative was created with input from stakeholders to define the role of IFAS in shaping Florida’s future in the 21st century. Through Florida FIRST, IFAS will be focusing its research and education imperatives in several key areas. One of the major program imperatives identified is the need to protect Florida’s plants, animals and human population from existing and invasive pests (insects, diseases, and weeds) (Florida FIRST 1999). Florida’s climate is conducive to a wide range of pests affecting agriculture, natural areas, public health, and structures (Capinera et al. 1994). Increasing concerns expressed repeatedly by Florida’s scientific community and the general public about environmental contamination, food safety issues, and human and animal health problems resulting from the indiscriminate use (and often misuse) of pesticides are making existing methods for pest management obsolete. Florida FIRST mandates that education and training programs in IPM, with biological control as the main component, be developed for Florida’s major pest species (Florida FIRST 1999). Successful implementation of “true” IPM will have the added benefit of helping Florida “. . . enhance natural resources, provide consumers with a wide variety of safe and affordable foods, . . provide enhanced environments for homes, work places, and vacations, maintain a sustainable food and fiber system, and improve the quality of life. . .” (Florida FIRST 1999).

The challenge facing Florida is not only to develop biological control technology to be used in IPM programs, but more importantly to encourage the adoption of these technologies at the local or grassroots level. County extension faculty, Master Gardeners and Naturalists as well as receptive producers can play a key role in this process. However, these educators need to be well trained in biological control concepts and programs in order to clearly explain and demonstrate to their clientele or neighbors that biological control should be an integral part of all IPM programs. Successful implementation of these underutilized technologies will maximize current and emerging agricultural productivity in an increasingly competitive global market while protecting Florida’s fragile ecosystems and conserving its natural resources.

Our mission is to provide leadership in delivering basic concepts and practical training in biological control so that it can serve as the basis of IPM in the priority areas of agriculture, horticulture, structures, natural resources and public health. The purpose of this project is to address a statewide mandate to improve the knowledge base of extension professionals by developing and implementing in-service training programs for county extension faculty, Master Gardeners and Naturalists, conventional and organic mentoring farmers, natural resource managers and other pest consultants in biological control techniques to support IPM practices

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Objective:
Description:

Methods

As discussed in other sections of this report, this project was the establishment of an IPM and biological control state program for Florida. This was accomplished through the collaboration of several extension and research faculty in the UF and FAMU systems on a large number and wide variety of extension activities.

Outreach and Publications

-Survey Florida County Extension IPM/BC Needs.

-Florida IPM/BC Web site. http://biocontrol.ifas.ufl.edu/

-IPM In-service Training, April 10, 2002 – Video

-IPM Toolbox for county agents – publication pending, 2003

-PowerPoint Presentations from the FL IPM/BC web site

–Beneficial Nematodes in the Landscape (8.5 MB) – William T. Crow, Entomology and Nematology

–Biological Control Concepts – A Primer (460 KB) – James P. Cuda, Entomology and Nematology

–Biological Control of Aquatic and Wetland Weeds (5.3MB) – James Cuda, Entomology and Nematology; and Gary Buckingham, USDA

–Blueberry Gall Midge and Thrips Monitoring Techniques (16.4 MB) – Oscar Liburd, Entomology and Nematology

–Cactus Moth, Cactoblastis cactorum – An Update (1.2 MB) – James P. Cuda, Entomology and Nematology

–Contributions of Extension to IPM for Invasive Weeds in Florida (5.5 MB) – James P. Cuda, Entomology and Nematology, University of Florida

–Diaprepes Root Weevil and Other Pests of Regulatory Concern (9.93 MB) – Catherine Mannion, Entomology and Nematology, University of Florida

–Good and Bad Bugs in Your Garden (12.3 MB) – Thomas Weissling, Ft. Lauderdale REC (revised July 2000)

–Hibiscus Pests – Integrated Pest Management (12.8 MB) – Thomas Weissling, Ft. Lauderdale REC

–Integrated Pest Management – An Introduction (long version) (18.7 MB) – Thomas Weissling, Ft. Lauderdale REC

–Integrated Pest Management – An Introduction (short version) (13.3 MB) – Thomas Weissling, Ft. Lauderdale REC

–Invasive Weeds in Florida – Contributions of Extension to IPM (5.5 MB) – James P. Cuda, Entomology and Nematology

–IPM for Sustainable Sugarcane Production in Florida (5.8 MB) – Gregg Nusessly, Everglades REC

–IPM of Mole Crickets with a Combination of Natural Enemies (4.1 MB) – Howard Frank, Entomology and Nematology, University of Florida

–Lovebug in Florida – Setting the Record Straight (3.8 MB) – J. P. Cuda and N. C. Leppla, Entomology and Nematology, University of Florida

–Mole Crickets – IPM with a Combination of Natural Enemies (4.1 MB) – Howard Frank, Entomology and Nematology

–Natural Enemies (14.9 MB) – Jay Cee Turner, Eileen A. Buss and Norm C. Leppla, Entomology and Nematology, University of Florida

–Nematode Management for Home-grown Vegetables (20 MB) – William T. Crow, Entomology and Nematology

–Nematode Management for Landscape Ornamentals (14.5 MB) – William T. Crow, Entomology and Nematology

–Nematodes in Nursery Production (17 MB) – William T. Crow, Entomology and Nematology

–Palm Pest Management – Considerations (8.6 MB) – Thomas Weissling, Ft. Lauderdale REC

–Palm Pests – Integrated Pest Management (4.4 MB) – Thomas Weissling and Alan Meerow, Ft. Lauderdale REC (revised July 2000)

–Scarabs of Florida (21.6 MB) – Eileen A. Buss, Entomology and Nematology

–Scouting – A Real Life Experience (460 KB) – Elizabeth Felter, Orange County Extension Service, University of Florida

–Turfgrasses in Florida – Integrated Nematode Management (23.5 MB) – William T. Crow, Entomology and Nematology

–Weed Biological Control Principles and Procedures (8.8 MB) – James Cuda, Entomology and Nematology

Outcomes and impacts:

1. Assist county faculty / mentoring groups in delivering information-

This program established a responsive IPM specialist office in the UF/IFAS Cooperative Extension system.

On April 10, 2002, we conducted a statewide in-service in IPM emphasizing biological control for extension faculty via satellite teleconferencing. SARE grant funds were vital to getting this workshop scheduled. Sixty participants attended the in-service training at 6 teleconferencing sites around the state. Twelve videotape copies of the in-service presentations were distributed after the training for use in individual or group extension in-service education.

Dr. Jim Cuda was a guest speaker at the 2001 Master Gardener Volunteer Training workshop held in Sarasota on September 27. This workshop, jointly sponsored by Manatee and Sarasota Counties, gave us an opportunity to showcase our new IPM initiative and provide the attendees with practical info on IPM. The same presentation, with modifications, was given at the Environmental Horticulture Agents Conference and In-service Training 25 October 2001. Dr. Cuda was also co-instructor at the Biological Control of Melaleuca: Managing Melaleuca with the Snout Beetle course held November 14, 2001, by the Lee County, Florida, Extension Service in Fort Myers, Florida.

Dr. Norman Leppla Leppla, presented “Implement a Successful IPM Program in Your Own Yard” at the National Master Gardener Conference, Orlando, Florida, 05/30/01, “IPM and Biorationals for Master Gardeners,” at the 2001 Master Gardener’s Summer Institute, Ocala, Florida, 07/24/01, “Integrated Pest Management in Florida,” at Greenteam, Multi-County Cooperative Extension, Tavares, Florida, 11/09/01. He also served as one of two coordinators of a symposium on augmentative biological control at the annual meeting of the Florida Entomological Society held August 5-9, 2001 at Hutchinson Island, Florida. Dr. Cuda presented on the “Extension support for implementing augmentative biological control in Florida” at the same symposium.

Doctor of Plant Medicine graduate student Esther Dunn worked with Alachua County extension agent Wendy Wilbur and Master Gardener students to develop the “IPM Toolbox,” a collection of publications, electronic presentations, and hands-on biological control activity plans designed to assist county faculty teach landscape IPM with Master Gardeners, 4-H students, and homeowners. The “IPM Toolbox” is now being made available to other county faculty around the state.

Both Drs. Leppla and Cuda gave other presentations on IPM or biological control not listed here.

2. Link extension specialists and researchers with county extension faculty-

Through the Florida IPM and Biological Control listserv, we solicited extension faculty for their information needs. One need identified was that of information on biological control of the fungal ‘Take-all’ disease caused by Gaeumannomyces graminis var. graminis on turfgrass. Program staff linked with University of Florida researcher Dr. Monica Elliott, who provided participants with a synopsis of current Take-all disease research efforts. Similar discussions have resulted in information being circulated on the side effects of pesticides on natural enemies, biological control of chinch bug, and a report by Dr. Leppla on what is known about the effects of companion plants on natural enemies. (Companion plants are non-crop plants planted within the cropping system for the purpose of attracting natural enemies or as a decoy to attract pests.)

In October and November of 2001, two exploratory meetings were held to form cooperative projects between staff of this program and staff of the Center for Biological Control, the Center for Cooperative Agricultural Programs, and the Center for Viticulture Science at FAMU (a historically black university). SARE funds in the amount of $7067 were transferred to the director of the Center for Biological Control to develop a demonstration project on IPM for natural resources. A grant of $2675 also was received from the FAMU Center for Cooperative Agricultural Programs to support this program.

An interview with our IPM Coordinator, Dr. Norman Leppla, in the November 2001 Citrus & Vegetable trade magazine brought a request from Cherry Lake, the largest woody ornamental nursery in Florida. The nursery is seeking certification in IPM, which they recognize will save money, protect the environment and employees, and be a positive tool for marketing their product. In June 2002, a grant from the EPA Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program was obtained to explore the creation of an industry-driven eco-label, the first in the nation for marketing ornamentals grown using IPM. The woody ornamentals industry has an estimated $236 million in annual sales in Florida. The IPM Institute of North America, a national eco-labeling leader, partnered in the grant application. In October 2002, an initial meeting was held with extension specialist and county faculty members from various disciplines and representatives from private growers and grower associations.

3. Enhance teaching of biological control / IPM-

The UF/IFAS has created a cutting edge doctoral level professional degree program which awards a “Doctorate of Plant Medicine” to graduates. This is the first doctoral level program like it in the world. The Doctor of Plant Medicine (DPM) program is a true integrated pest management educational program in that students in the program study insect pest management, biological control, plant pathology, soil and plant nutrition, and nematology. Graduates will be equipped to diagnose nearly any type of plant problem and make truly integrated management recommendations. The Florida IPM/BC program has collaborated extensively with the DPM program by participating in IPM-related courses and seminars, assisting in organizing required internships for DPM students, providing work-study opportunities for 4 DPM students, and serving on student advisory committees (Drs. Leppla and Cuda).

DPM graduate student Esther Dunn was hired by Florida IPM/BC to work with Alachua County extension agent Wendy Wilbur and develop a project with Master Gardeners involving the use of natural enemies and other IPM or biological control methods. The goal of the project is to determine and demonstrate the efficacy of natural enemies and IPM in the home landscape, and develop a pilot “IPM toolbox” (Power Point presentations, color handouts, flip books, insect identification charts, IPM project instructions, and inexpensive hand lenses) for extension agents and Master Gardeners. As an educational system, different numbers of the commercially produced lady beetles Coleomegilla maculata (DeGeer) were released in small milkweed plots to control the milkweed aphid. This work placed IPM and biological control information directly in the hands of extension agents and Master Gardeners, and subsequently the end-users. The “IPM Toolbox” is now being made available to other county faculty around the state through regional extension faculty committees.

At one multi-county seminar conducted for Master Gardeners by Dunn and Wilbur, over 40 participants reported a 60% increase in knowledge of IPM strategies, and 80% reported that they would implement IPM in the home landscape. A full 100% reported that they would use the IPM training received in making recommendations to other homeowners when volunteering in the county extension office. These results will be multiplied by the 67 counties in Florida which will receive the materials for their Master Gardener programs.

An IPM demonstration project for small farm strawberry producers in north central Florida was established. DPM student Ashley Johnson was recruited for this demonstration project as a component of her educational internship requirement. The DPM (Doctor of Plant Medicine) program is a unique professional graduate program at the University of Florida. Graduates are trained in all areas of plant pathology, pest control, and plant nutrition. Very good results were obtained from on-farm demonstration trials initiated in October 2002. When sampling for two-spotted spider mites (TSM) Tetranychus uricae (Tetranychidae) was begun on Mr. Rod Crawford’s strawberry farm in October an average of less than 5 mites per trifoliate were found. In mid November, mite population increased above 10 TSM per trifoliate. The field was then divided and blocked according to strawberry cultivars; Diamante and Camarosa. The predatory mite Neoseiulus californicus McGregor was introduced as an alternative to Phytoseiulus persimilis Athias-Henriot. Neoseiulus californicus was introduced because it is felt that it can better adapt to north Florida conditions as opposed to P. persimilis. In the areas that were treated with N. californicus, no TSM (motiles or eggs) were found for the last two months, including a sample that was taken on March 4, 2003. In the untreated areas, an average of 25 and 52 TSM per trifoliate were found for Camarosa and Diamante respectively. Egg counts also were extremely high in the untreated (no predator) areas averaging 133 and 132 per trifoliate for Camarosa and Diamante, respectively. Because of the high numbers of eggs and motiles in untreated blocks, the use of reduced-risk miticides is being recommended, specifically Acramite® for motile control and Savey® for control of eggs.

In a collaborative project with the Florida IPM and Biological Control program, Cooperative Extension staff at Florida A&M University (FAMU) have provided marketable vegetable varieties (i.e., hot peppers) to growers who sell to specialized niche markets, thus allowing small growers to compete against larger commercial enterprises. The main objective of this proposal is to develop and demonstrate integrated pest management (IPM) technology developed for smaller growers who sell specialty crops to certain niche markets in north Florida. Specific objectives include research on the use of IPM strategies with emphasis on biological control of whiteflies, and other major insect pests of hot peppers and to evaluate and transfer the emerging technologies to resource-limited producers. Three treatments will be performed on a field site at the 260-acre farm of the FAMU Research and Extension Center in Quincy, FL: 1) application of IPM techniques, 2) grower’s practice and 3) control (no pest management). Two varieties of hot peppers (‘Scotch Bonnet’ and ‘Caribbean Red’) will be used as the experimental crop. We anticipate that the research and extension components of the project will provide needed emerging pest management technologies to the target growers. Results of the demonstration project will be presented to our clientele through a field day in 2003 and extension brochures in both printed and electronic formats.

The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) Communications Department created a television news spot highlighting a successful example of IPM in Florida tomato production. The spot aired in March, 2002, on a regional news program and is available online from the Florida IPM/BC website. It is intended to raise awareness about the benefits of IPM for producers, consumers, and the environment.

Florida’s third largest agricultural commodity is ornamental plants and Florida is the second largest producer of ornamental plants and the largest producer of foliage plants in the nation (Hodges and Haydu 1999). Due to the high aesthetic value required for ornamental plants, the industry has relied heavily on pesticides. Adoption of IPM programs will reduce pesticide contamination of Florida’s sensitive water table and environment. A Florida IPM/BC project is was begun in south Florida in 2002 assessing IPM practices and developing training materials for ornamental nurseries.

4. Establish and maintain a biological control / IPM website-

The Florida IPM and Biological Control Program Web site and listserv were established in May of 2001. A DPM graduate assistant (Daniel Sonke) was hired in September 2001 to compile information and make it available through the site. The enhanced website (http://biocontrol.ifas.ufl.edu) is “dedicated to the delivery of IPM information and technology with an emphasis on biological control. It is divided into categories of information: Latest additions to this site include Florida IPM/biological control program, IPM educational and extension materials, pest management and the environment, success stories- IPM/biological control, funding and employment, pests and natural enemies, UF/IFAS and FAMU Cooperative Extension, related links, Florida IPM/Biological Control Listserv, and biocontrol message board. The IPM Florida site includes a way to make contact with program staff, mission statement, general concept of IPM and biological control, list of projects and reports. The Web site can be browsed by crop, pest, natural enemy and pest type. Education and extension materials are classified as demonstrations, meetings, newsletters, news releases, photo galleries, presentations, proceedings, tutorials, use of natural enemies, and videos. ‘Cooperative extension’ leads clientele to county offices, the pesticide information office, publications, diagnostic clinics, and the Distance Diagnostic Identification System. ‘Pest management and the environment’ is evolving to provide balanced information on pesticides and natural enemies. Categories of information currently include applicator training, biocontrol agent release, biopesticides, pesticide compatibility with natural enemies, labels, pest management tutorials, scouting, associations, ecology, entomology, nematology, pesticide information, plant pathology, suppliers of beneficial organisms, UF, USDA, invasive weeds and miscellaneous. There are success stories for melaleuca, mole crickets, ornamentals, and tomato IPM. There is a search engine for information on the site and at all University of Florida Websites. Links include online resources for general IPM and biocontrol-related information, the Florida Automated Weather Network (FAWN), reports about IPM activities in Florida and the nation, and information on specific pests, natural enemies, or pest cycles, including “Featured Creatures” fact sheets from the University of Florida Entomology and Nematology Website and a list of contacts who have agreed to answer extension faculty IPM and biological control questions.

Web and print resources related to Compatibility of Chemicals with Natural Enemies have been compiled and made available from the IPM and Biological Control Web site (http://biocontrol.ifas.ufl.edu/Natural_enemies/sideeffects.htm).

Twenty-six electronic presentations on IPM and biological control topics for Florida have been made available from the Web site for extension faculty around the state to download to enhance their teaching/extension activities.

The companion listserv was established for discussion about IPM and biological control topics. This is also used for informing users about additions to the Web site, IPM-related job opportunities, news items, and related resources. This has resulted in information being gathered and redistributed to listserv members on subjects such as take-all disease of St. Augustine grass, chinch bugs in turf, use of mapping software for scouting pests, and pesticide registration. New users continue to voluntarily subscribe to the site. Currently there are 96 subscribers. Over 150 messages have passed through the listserv since it was created in 2001.

5. Advance commercial biological control / IPM in Florida-

The Entomos LLC company is located near the University of Florida campus in Gainesville, Florida, and has been very cooperative with program staff. Entomos donated natural enemies for use in creating the IPM Toolbox Master Gardener project in 2002 and 2003 and benefited from data to be gathered in the projects.

The conference, “Growing Partnerships in Biocontrol” was organized, funded and chaired with cooperation from the Florida IPM and Biological Control Program as the first international meeting of the Association of Natural Bio-control Producers and International Biocontrol Manufacturer’s Association. Held in Washington, DC October 25-27, 2001, the goal of the conference was to enhance international collaboration, establishing common goals, and harmonizing quality control standards for natural enemies. This historic joint meeting was an unprecedented opportunity to discuss issues that are critical to the future of commercial biological control. Procedures were determined for harmonizing quality control standards in North America, Europe and throughout the world. Subjects of common interest were laboratory and field quality control tests, new technologies and products, regulatory challenges, and ways to promote biological control. The conclusion was a brainstorming session on international cooperation and action. The conference was attended by the major international leaders in commercial biological control, along with their collaborators in allied industries and government. Representatives were present from individual companies, the International Organization for Biological Control (Global Body, Arthropod Mass-Rearing and Quality Control Working Group), U.S. Department of Agriculture (National Biological Control Institute, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Agricultural Research Service), state departments of agriculture, U.S. and European universities, and other affiliated groups. Members of the Australasian Producers Association and South African Insectaries Association have been invited and we expect colleagues from Asia and South America to participate in the future.

The woody ornamentals eco-labeling project is exploring the creation of a state-of-the-art certification system for Florida woody ornamentals, an industry with an estimated $236 million in annual sales. Through collaboration with the IPM Institute of North America, the effort will apply knowledge gleaned from more than 20 years of published research and practical experience in operating and marketing IPM produced goods.

6. Determine educational and technical needs and opportunities for biological control and IPM –

To establish priorities for collaboration in IPM, a statewide survey was conducted of Florida extension faculty in March 2002. Those who completed the survey received a copy of IPM in Practice: Principles and Methods of Integrated Pest Management to help them implement IPM. The survey results are being used to decide what type of extension materials (publications, multi-media presentations, online resources, etc.) will be developed on IPM and biological control in Florida. One of the highest priorities which emerged from the survey is to conduct discrete IPM research projects and demonstrate results that homeowners and farmers can use to manage insect pests with minimal use of toxic insecticides, e.g., effectiveness of commercial natural enemies for homeowners, recommendations on the use of biorational pesticides, and IPM for ornamental plant production. These and related projects are being accomplished in partnership with researchers, extension agents, Master Gardeners, Doctor of Plant Medicine students, growers, and farmers

Further priorities from the survey [positive responses by 76% or more respondents]:

-IPM information to be included in state pest management guides
-Networking/consultation within the extension community
-Current pesticide information
-Current IPM information
-Tools to measure adoption of IPM
-Collaboration on projects
-Establishment of IPM scouting thresholds
-In-service training

Important 2002 activities of the Florida IPM/BC program were a natural outgrowth of this survey by directing research and education at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) and the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University Center for Viticulture and Small Fruit Research (FAMU) to selected projects which emerged in the survey as high priority for the state, region, and nation. These selected projects will be conducted through partnership with extension, growers, trade associations, and Master Gardeners.

One of the questions in the 2002 survey (83% favorable response) demonstrated a real need by Florida extension faculty for research/training in the use of biological control for homeowners, especially resulting in educational materials to be used with Master Gardeners. As Florida’s population continues to grow rapidly in urban areas while the farm population shrinks due to corporate farming mergers and competition with international markets, the extension community increasingly serves urban homeowners and needs corresponding support from the research community. The IPM Toolbox project described above is targeted specifically at meeting the need for IPM and biological control training materials in Florida’s extension faculty.

Many of the most toxic pesticide compounds are being removed from the national market by action of the EPA. Other compounds are restricted in use for Florida due to the sensitivity of Florida’s porous soil and water table. Alternative materials are appearing in the market, but the effectiveness of these “biorational,” or “alternative” pesticides is constantly questioned in both urban and agricultural environments due to lack of data. Extension personnel survey strongly indicated a need for this information, with 93% responding affirmatively. [The term “biorational pesticide” refers to “a chemical such as a toxin or growth regulator derived from a living organism and applied either as the entire dead organism or as an extract from the organism; alternatively, the chemical or an analog of it synthesized in vitro.” (http://biocontrol.ifas.ufl.edu/glossary.htm#B).] Also unknown is the effect of these alternative compounds on natural enemies of pest organisms. A collaboration between Florida IPM/BC and Eminent Scholar Marjorie Hoy is providing data on the efficacy of selected “biorational” and “alternative” pesticides on two-spotted spider mite Tetranychus uricae and the effect on a key natural enemy of this pest, the phytoseiid mite Metaseiulus occidentalis.

Twenty-six electronic presentations on IPM and biological control topics for Florida have been made available from the Web site for extension faculty around the state to download to enhance their teaching/extension activities. Requests for this type of presentation were frequent comments added to the survey of extension faculty.

The program listserv has also been used to ask extension faculty for their IPM and biocontrol needs. This has resulted in information being gathered and redistributed to listserv members on subjects such as take-all disease of St. Augustine grass, chinch bugs in turf, use of mapping software for scouting pests, and pesticide registration. This listserv is ongoing and will continue to provide this service.

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

The program funded by this SARE grant has developed an effective network of extension specialists, county faculty, and mentoring farmers dedicated to delivering biological control technology within the context of IPM to user groups. The listserv created for information exchange has 96 participants including extension specialists, county faculty, and researchers. Information exchange has been facilitated by the listserv (examples given above), educational opportunities have been created for extension faculty and staff (satellite teleconferencing in-service), and cooperative demonstration projects were built (Strawberry IPM, IPM Toolbox for Master Gardeners). The program design team includes county extension faculty, researchers in entomology and plant pathology from around the state, and industry representatives.

Organizational linkages included County Extension (Alachua, Washington, Gulf, Tallahassee, Orange, Volusia, Broward, Manatee, Sarasota, Palm Beach, Dade), the Florida Nurserymen and Grower’s Association; Disney Epcot; IFAS, Departments (Entomology and Nematology, Horticultural Sciences, Plant Pathology, Environmental Horticulture, Food and Resource Economics, Agronomy), IFAS Centers (MFREC, GCREC, CREC, NFREC, SWFREC, EREC), Mississippi State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services- Division of Plant Industry, FAMU- Center for Biological Control (a historically black university); Florida Grape Growers Association, Florida Cattlemen’s Association, and Florida Turf Grass Association.

Several research and extension projects are being conducted with minority faculty members from UF and FAMU. Many of the pepper growers are limited resource farmers and some are under represented groups. Key members of the mole cricket working group are female and African-American. A considerable amount of guidance is provided to female and minority students. Four of the seven Florida IPM/BC employees hired under this grant were female.

Through the program funded by this SARE grant, the farming, gardening, natural resources and urban communities of Florida are gaining understanding and appreciation of biological control and pesticide alternatives, and assistance has been provided to county faculty in delivering information on IPM and biological control.

County extension faculty are members of the program, and serve on the Design Team. Statewide in-service training in IPM and biological control was provided for extension faculty via satellite teleconferencing. Due to state budget cuts, this training would not have been funded without the SARE grant. Similar training was provided to the 2001 Master Gardener Volunteer Training workshop for Manatee and Sarasota Counties and the Environmental Horticulture Agents Conference. “Implement a Successful IPM Program in Your Own Yard” was presented at the National Master Gardener Conference, “IPM and Biorationals for Master Gardeners,” at the 2001 Master Gardener’s Summer Institute, and “Integrated Pest Management in Florida,” at the Greenteam, Multi-County Cooperative Extension meeting. A symposium on augmentative biological control was held at the annual meeting of the Florida Entomological Society.

At the multi-county IPM Toolbox seminar conducted for Master Gardeners by Dunn and Wilbur in the fall of 2002, over 40 Master Gardeners reported a 60% increase in knowledge of IPM strategies, and 80% reported that they would implement IPM in the home landscape. A full 100% reported that they would use the IPM training received in making recommendations to other homeowners when volunteering in the county extension office. These results will be multiplied by the 67 counties in Florida that will receive the materials for their Master Gardener programs.

A November 14, 2001, course in Biological Control of Melaleuca: Managing Melaleuca with the Snout Beetle given by Dr. Cuda in Fort Myers, Florida, had 53 participants. These were surveyed before and after the course. Before the course, 35.8% of participants stated that their “knowledge of biological control” was below average or poor. After the course, only 5.7% thought their knowledge of biological control to be below average and none felt it to be poor. Before the course 17% felt their biological control knowledge to be above average, while afterwards this number had increased to 60.4%. A full 100% said that they would recommend the course to others.

Similarly, at the 2001 Master Gardener Volunteer Training workshop held in Sarasota on September 27, Dr. Cuda surveyed his audience. Before the presentation, 78.3% of the 37 participants rated their biological control knowledge as below average or poor, while after the presentation this number had decreased to 5.6% and the number rating their biological control knowledge as at or above average had increased from 16.2% to 94.4%. The number who stated that they would recommend the seminar to others was 85.7%.

Master Gardener activities were both state and national.

The program funded by this SARE grant is reducing reliance on pesticides through the increased adoption of biological control and pesticide alternatives. The woody ornamentals eco-labeling project is exploring the creation of a state-of-the-art certification system for Florida woody ornamentals, an industry with an estimated $236 million in annual sales. Through collaboration with the IPM Institute of North America, the effort will apply knowledge gleaned from more than 20 years of published research and practical experience in operating and marketing IPM produced goods.

The program funded by this SARE grant is being incorporated into the curriculum for the new Doctor of Plant Medicine (DPM) degree program recently created at the University of Florida. One DPM students already serves on the steering committee for this program, and others will be recruited in the coming months for key positions with demonstration projects in IPM emphasizing biological control. In the month of January, Dr. Norman Leppla will be participating in educational and professional development seminars for DPM students and other students learning IPM and/or Biological Control through presentations.

Recommendations:

Potential Contributions

Impact of the results/Outcomes

The program funded by this SARE grant has developed an effective network of extension specialists, county faculty, and mentoring farmers dedicated to delivering biological control technology within the context of IPM to user groups. The listserv created for information exchange has 96 participants including extension specialists, county faculty, and researchers. Information exchange has been facilitated by the listserv (examples given above), educational opportunities have been created for extension faculty and staff (satellite teleconferencing in-service), and cooperative demonstration projects were built (Strawberry IPM, IPM Toolbox for Master Gardeners). The program design team includes county extension faculty, researchers in entomology and plant pathology from around the state, and industry representatives.

Organizational linkages included County Extension (Alachua, Washington, Gulf, Tallahassee, Orange, Volusia, Broward, Manatee, Sarasota, Palm Beach, Dade), the Florida Nurserymen and Grower’s Association; Disney Epcot; IFAS, Departments (Entomology and Nematology, Horticultural Sciences, Plant Pathology, Environmental Horticulture, Food and Resource Economics, Agronomy), IFAS Centers (MFREC, GCREC, CREC, NFREC, SWFREC, EREC), Mississippi State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services- Division of Plant Industry, FAMU- Center for Biological Control (a historically black university); Florida Grape Growers Association, Florida Cattlemen’s Association, and Florida Turf Grass Association.

Several research and extension projects are being conducted with minority faculty members from UF and FAMU. Many of the pepper growers are limited resource farmers and some are under represented groups. Key members of the mole cricket working group are female and African-American. A considerable amount of guidance is provided to female and minority students. Four of the seven Florida IPM/BC employees hired under this grant were female.

Through the program funded by this SARE grant, the farming, gardening, natural resources and urban communities of Florida are gaining understanding and appreciation of biological control and pesticide alternatives, and assistance has been provided to county faculty in delivering information on IPM and biological control.

County extension faculty are members of the program, and serve on the Design Team. Statewide in-service training in IPM and biological control was provided for extension faculty via satellite teleconferencing. Due to state budget cuts, this training would not have been funded without the SARE grant. Similar training was provided to the 2001 Master Gardener Volunteer Training workshop for Manatee and Sarasota Counties and the Environmental Horticulture Agents Conference. “Implement a Successful IPM Program in Your Own Yard” was presented at the National Master Gardener Conference, “IPM and Biorationals for Master Gardeners,” at the 2001 Master Gardener’s Summer Institute, and “Integrated Pest Management in Florida,” at the Greenteam, Multi-County Cooperative Extension meeting. A symposium on augmentative biological control was held at the annual meeting of the Florida Entomological Society.

At the multi-county IPM Toolbox seminar conducted for Master Gardeners by Dunn and Wilbur in the fall of 2002, over 40 Master Gardeners reported a 60% increase in knowledge of IPM strategies, and 80% reported that they would implement IPM in the home landscape. A full 100% reported that they would use the IPM training received in making recommendations to other homeowners when volunteering in the county extension office. These results will be multiplied by the 67 counties in Florida that will receive the materials for their Master Gardener programs.

A November 14, 2001, course in Biological Control of Melaleuca: Managing Melaleuca with the Snout Beetle given by Dr. Cuda in Fort Myers, Florida, had 53 participants. These were surveyed before and after the course. Before the course, 35.8% of participants stated that their “knowledge of biological control” was below average or poor. After the course, only 5.7% thought their knowledge of biological control to be below average and none felt it to be poor. Before the course 17% felt their biological control knowledge to be above average, while afterwards this number had increased to 60.4%. A full 100% said that they would recommend the course to others.

Similarly, at the 2001 Master Gardener Volunteer Training workshop held in Sarasota on September 27, Dr. Cuda surveyed his audience. Before the presentation, 78.3% of the 37 participants rated their biological control knowledge as below average or poor, while after the presentation this number had decreased to 5.6% and the number rating their biological control knowledge as at or above average had increased from 16.2% to 94.4%. The number who stated that they would recommend the seminar to others was 85.7%.

Master Gardener activities were both state and national.

The program funded by this SARE grant is reducing reliance on pesticides through the increased adoption of biological control and pesticide alternatives. The woody ornamentals eco-labeling project is exploring the creation of a state-of-the-art certification system for Florida woody ornamentals, an industry with an estimated $236 million in annual sales. Through collaboration with the IPM Institute of North America, the effort will apply knowledge gleaned from more than 20 years of published research and practical experience in operating and marketing IPM produced goods.

The program funded by this SARE grant is being incorporated into the curriculum for the new Doctor of Plant Medicine (DPM) degree program recently created at the University of Florida. One DPM students already serves on the steering committee for this program, and others will be recruited in the coming months for key positions with demonstration projects in IPM emphasizing biological control. In the month of January, Dr. Norman Leppla will be participating in educational and professional development seminars for DPM students and other students learning IPM and/or Biological Control through presentations.

Future Recommendations

Areas needing additional study

The 2002 survey of extension faculty produced the following IPM/biological control-related areas needing attention in Florida:

-IPM information to be included in state pest management guides
-Networking/consultation within the extension community
-Current pesticide information
-Current IPM information
-Tools to measure adoption of IPM
-Collaboration on projects
-Establishment of IPM scouting thresholds
-In-service training

As recounted above, several of these have been addressed in this project. Three are being actively addressed by proposals currently under review by funding agencies: “IPM information to be included in state pest management guides,” “Current IPM information,” “Establishment of IPM scouting thresholds.” Key commodities in Florida have been selected to receive research attention and the publication of “Florida IPM management guides” in 2003-2004, as funds become available.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.