Spatially Based Whole-Farm Integrated Crop Management (ICM) Systems for Northeast Highbush Blueberry Production

2009 Annual Report for LNE08-273

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2008: $180,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2012
Region: Northeast
State: New Jersey
Project Leader:

Spatially Based Whole-Farm Integrated Crop Management (ICM) Systems for Northeast Highbush Blueberry Production

Summary

In 2009, the project leader and co-investigators met and trained eight New Jersey blueberry growers on the use of Geographic Information System (GIS)-based whole farm management and reduce-risk practices. Following, a GIS-based and reduced-risk pest management program referred to as Integrated Crop Management (ICM) was implemented in their farms. Pest distribution, pesticide applications, amount of active ingredient/acre, and pesticides cost/acre was compared between four of the ICM farms and four farms under grower standard pest management practices (Std). Within farms, blueberry maggot distribution was significantly higher in fields close to the forest than in interior fields, whereas sharp-nosed leafhopper and oriental beetle populations were irregularly distributed. Natural enemy abundance did not vary significantly among farms. Pesticide applications, amount of active ingredient/acre, and pesticide cost/acre were reduced in ICM farms by 49%, 39%, and 57%, respectively, as compared to the Std farms. Approximately 120 blueberry growers from New Jersey, Maryland, and Pennsylvania attended 2 meetings organized by the project leaders on ICM-based and reduced-risk pest management practices. Thirty blueberry growers and extension agents from Maryland and Pennsylvania attended a field workshop in Pennsylvania organized by the project leaders on pest scouting methods.

Objectives/Performance Targets

Eight blueberry growers in New Jersey used ICM-based whole farm management practices. These participating growers used spatially-precise pesticide applications based on pest distribution; these included border treatment, high-risk zone treatment, and timely applications based on economic thresholds. As a result, pesticide applications, amount of active ingredient/acre, and pesticide cost/acre were reduced in ICM farms by 49%, 39%, and 57%, respectively, compared to standard farms.

Accomplishments/Milestones

• (a) About 70 blueberry growers from Maryland and Pennsylvania attended the blueberry session organized by the project leader at the Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention (Hershey, PA) in February, 2009. The project leader and co-investigators presented talks on the importance of monitoring, sampling and management strategies for blueberry insect and diseases, nutrient requirements, and weed control. A socio-economic survey on the grower’s perceptions of current blueberry pest management practices was conducted at the meeting. Among the 30 respondents, 8 either used or considered using reduced-risk pesticides in their blueberry farms.
• (b) Approximately 50 blueberry growers mainly from New Jersey listened to presentations given by the project leaders at the Blueberry Open House (Hammonton, New Jersey) in February, 2009. A survey was also conducted at this meeting. Among the 25 respondents, 15 of them were either using or considered using reduced-risk pesticides.
• (c) Thirty growers and extension agents working on blueberries in Maryland and Pennsylvania attended a field workshop in September 2009. The “Blueberry IPM” workshop provided information as well as on-farm demonstrations on pest identification, scouting and monitoring techniques, and the use of reduced-risk pesticides. The workshop was organized by personnel from Rutgers University (SARE project leaders) in cooperation with personnel from the blueberry growers’ community and Penn State University and was held at Perry Acres farm in Berks County (Pennsylvania).
• (d) Eight growers in New Jersey participated in a GIS-based pest management program. Two private meetings with each of the growers were held in March (before the start of the growing season) and November (after completion of the growing season) of 2009. These meeting provided growers’ inputs for future improvement of the project.
• (e) Seven growers attended an annual training program on the use of Rutgers AgroTrak software, a grower friendly GIS-based crop management system, in March 2009. The training provided computer-based learning on the use of maps to record pest distribution, and thus better target insecticide applications, and to better keep pesticide records. The training program was conducted at the Rutgers Marucci Center for Blueberry and Cranberry Research and Extension center at Chatsworth, New Jersey.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

In the first year of the project, eight blueberry growers used ICM-based whole farm pest management practices. We studied the distribution of pests in blueberry farms to better target pesticide applications. Results from spatially-based intensive monitoring revealed that high risk areas do exist for some blueberry pests. For example, blueberry maggot (BBM) abundance was higher in farms surrounded by forest. Within farms, traps placed close to forest edges captured higher number of BBM than those placed in interior fields, indicating migration of BBM from outside hosts. In contrast, sharp-nosed leafhopper and oriental beetle populations were irregularly distributed within farms without a clear forest-edge effect. Due to the BBM distribution, growers applied more pesticides to border fields than interior fields in ICM farms. Among the four growers having an ICM and standard farms, ICM farms received on average 3.8 insecticide applications as compared to 7.3 applications in the standard farms. Similarly, the ICM farms received on average 2.6 lb active ingredient(a.i.)/acre compared to 4.6 lb a.i./acre applied in the standard farms. The insecticide cost per acre was also considerably lower in ICM farms ($42.5/acre) as compared to standard farms ($104.26/acre).

Collaborators:

Bradley Majek

majek@aesop.rutgers.edu
Extension Specialist in Weed Science
Rutgers University
121 Nothville Rd.
Bridgeton, NJ 08301
Office Phone: 8564553100
Kathleen Demchak

efz@psu.edu
Senior Extension Associate
Pennsylvania State University
103 Tyson Building
University Park, PA 16802
Office Phone: 8148632303
Gary Pavlis

pavlis@njaes.rutgers.edu
Blueberry Extension Agent
Rutgers University
6260 Old Harding Highway
Mays Landing, NJ 08330
Office Phone: 6096250056
Jan Meneley

agbio@agbio-inc.com
President
AgBio Development Inc.
9915 Raleigh St.
Westminster, CO 80030
Office Phone: 3034699221
Jayson Harper

jharper@psu.edu
Professor of Agricultural Economics
Pennsylvania State University
214-A Armsby
University Park, PA 16802
Office Phone: 8148638638
Anne DeMarsay

fruitdr@umd.edu
Regional Extension Specialist
University of Maryland
2005 Largo Rd
Upper Marlboro, MD 20774
Office Phone: 3016278440
Peter Oudemans

oudemans@aesop.rutgers.edu
Blueberry/Cranberry Pathologist
Rutgers University
PE Marucci Center
125A Lake Oswego Rd
Chatsworth, NJ 08019
Office Phone: 6097261590
Agenor Mafra-Neto

info@iscatech.com
President
ISCA technologies
2060 Chicago Av.
Suite C2
Riverside, CA 92507
Office Phone: 9516865008
Dean Polk

polk@aesop.rutgers.edu
Fruit IPM agent
Rutgers University
Blueberry/Cranberry Center
125A Lake Oswego Rd.
Chatsworth, NJ 08019
Office Phone: 6097261590