Testing Traditional Methods of Pest Mitigation

Project Overview

FW11-027
Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2011: $29,434.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2012
Region: Western
State: New Mexico
Principal Investigator:
Joseph Alfaro
Valle Encantado

Commodities

  • Vegetables: asparagus, beans, beets, broccoli, carrots, cucurbits, eggplant, garlic, greens (leafy), onions, peas (culinary), peppers, radishes (culinary), tomatoes, turnips
  • Additional Plants: herbs

Practices

  • Crop Production: application rate management
  • Education and Training: farmer to farmer, networking, on-farm/ranch research
  • Pest Management: biological control, botanical pesticides, cultural control, eradication, integrated pest management, mating disruption, physical control, cultivation, row covers (for pests), trap crops, weather monitoring
  • Production Systems: holistic management, organic agriculture, transitioning to organic

    Summary:

    The purpose of this project was to research traditional, chemical-free methods of pest control, specifically for squash bugs and cucumber beetles, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The goal was to identify and document local ways to conduct pest control as it has been practiced in New Mexico for centuries. To identify local ways to control pests, we first conducted interviews with local farmers and local Native populations which we recorded and have put on our website for future reference. We then evaluated these methods by implementing them across multiple grow sites operated by three local farmers who collectively comprise the Agri-Cultura Network, an organic farming cooperative based in the South Valley of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

    Introduction

    As consumers are exposed to a greater variety of healthy, locally grown food sources, they become more willing to pay premium prices for agricultural products of higher quality. Producers, on the other hand, face the challenge of satisfying this demand in a manner that is both sustainable and profitable. The purpose of this project was to research traditional, chemical-free methods of pest control suitable for Albuquerque’s climate and growing conditions. The goal was to identify and document local ways to conduct pest control as it has been practiced in New Mexico for centuries. To identify local ways to control pests, we first conducted seven interviews with local farmers and local Native populations. We then evaluated these methods by implementing them across multiple grow sites operated by three local farmers who collectively comprise the Agri-Cultura Network.

    Our contention is that the adoption of local, traditional practices for pest control will enable producers in this area to deliver more products in a cost effective manner by both reducing labor inputs and mitigating losses.

    New Mexico is uniquely suited for this type of research, as traditional agriculture has been practiced here for centuries. The Pueblo Cultures, from the Anasazi to the Pueblos today, practiced farming as subsistence farmers who indeed relied on keeping their farming practices sustainable. Later, with the migration of Mexican indigenous peoples from Tlaxcala and Spanish settlers, these practices were further reinforced, with small-scale farmers by necessity practicing self-sufficiency and sustainable practices along the Rio Grande. These methods have been preserved and refined over centuries, yet many modern-day farmers have forgotten these traditional methods of their forefathers.

    Project objectives:

    The objectives of this project were to first determine traditional methods for control of squash bugs and cucumber beetles on cucurbit crops (squash, cucumbers, melons and pumpkins) and finally test these methods across three different farmers’ fields to determine their efficacy in maintaining adequate crop production with limited inputs. Additionally, we wanted to produce outreach materials for local farmers on how to enhance their farming practices in an organic, sustainable manner in the form of online videos, presentations and brochures.

    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.