- Vegetables: tomatoes
- Education and Training: technical assistance, extension
- Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, feasibility study, agricultural finance
- Pest Management: biological control, physical control, mulching - plastic, prevention, row covers (for pests)
- Production Systems: agroecosystems, holistic management
- Sustainable Communities: public participation, sustainability measures
The curly top virus, transmitted by leafhoppers, has devastated tomato crops across Utah, Arizona and Nevada. Organic farmer Aviva Maller reported losing 90% of his tomato crop to curly top. Responding to reports that leafhoppers abhor shade, Maller will use his SARE grant to test plastic mulch and shade covers as organic control methods. He will cover one of his four 100-foot-long tomato beds with black mulch and two with different colored plastic mulches, leaving one uncovered against which to measure success. As plants mature, he will test shade covers, built using PVC pipe draped with fabric. He’ll leave 10 feet of each 100-foot row uncovered for comparison. Success with his low-cost approach will provide organic control of leafhoppers and the curly top disease they vector as well as test the value of mulches on crop productivity.