The Conservation Biological Control Short Course

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2015: $97,097.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2018
Region: Northeast
State: Oregon
Project Leader:
Eric Mader
The Xerces Society

Annual Reports

Information Products


Not commodity specific


  • Crop Production: cover crops, crop rotation, high tunnels or hoop houses, intercropping, no-till, pollination, pollinator habitat, pollinator health, windbreaks
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, drift/runoff buffers, habitat enhancement, hedgerows, wildlife
  • Pest Management: biological control, cultural control, field monitoring/scouting, integrated pest management, prevention, row covers (for pests), smother crops, trap crops

    Proposal abstract:

    Native, wild insects that attack crop pests are an overlooked resource. Although vast numbers of such beneficial insects are at work on farms across the world, they are eclipsed in farm education by a much smaller diversity of pest species. Yet, as a large body of research now demonstrates, farmers as diverse as apple growers, Christmas tree farmers, and soybean producers across the country are already benefiting from natural pest control. Despite this free service, few farmers know much about the beneficial insects around them, and even fewer know how to accelerate those beneficial insect populations to maximize their pest control potential.

    The Conservation Biological Control Short Course synthesizes the latest beneficial insect research and offers realistic solutions for enhancing beneficial insect populations on farms. Specific course topics include beneficial insect biology, habitat design for beneficials, pesticide risk mitigation, financial support available through USDA conservation programs, and real-world case studies.

    This project, the outgrowth of a 6-year research initiative conducted by the Xerces Society and university research partners, for the first time ever presents conservation biological control as an easy-to-adopt framework for multiple
    crop systems.

    The audience for this project includes IPM specialists, Extension personnel, NRCS conservation planners, Soil and Water Conservation District technicians, state departments of agriculture, crop consultants, and sustainable agriculture organizations.

    The project will be promoted through multiple channels, as well as in partnership with relevant agencies and state SARE Coordinators. Qualitative and quantitative post-course feedback from participants will be used to improve subject matter delivery on an ongoing basis.

    Based upon the overwhelmingly successful results of a prior SARE PDP project using this same model (related to pollinator conservation), we are confident this project will foster widespread adoption of course concepts across the region.

    Performance targets from proposal:

    Through this 3-year project, 120 educators and farm agency professionals in 12 Northeastern states who participate in the Conservation Biological Control Short Course will teach or advise 480 farmers managing a total of 2,400 acres about recommended conservation biological control strategies including habitat creation or enhancement and pesticide risk mitigation.

    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.