- Education and Training: extension, workshop
- Pest Management: biological control, chemical control, cultural control, economic threshold, field monitoring/scouting, integrated pest management, physical control, weather monitoring, weed ecology
Agricultural pests such as insects, weeds, nematodes, and disease pathogens, damage, disfigure or destroy more than 30 percent of crops worldwide. Many farmers and ranchers use pesticides or tillage to control these pests; however, overusing chemicals can lead to resistant pest populations, and exclusive tillage can reduce soil health and increase the likelihood of erosion. Beginning farmers struggle with pest management as that is a sizeable knowable gap to overcome. Farmers are currently dealing with increased production costs in fuel and chemicals, which add an extra financial burden on farmers and reduce their profits.
Integrated pest management (IPM) is a practical and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that can help farmers reduce the number of sprays they apply to a field by combining proactive and reactive management practices. IPM uses knowledge about the life cycles of pests and their interaction with the environment to manage pest populations and damage by the most economical means and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment.
This project will train agriculture service providers in IPM principles, pest identification skills, and pest management strategies. These service providers will then be able to offer additional support to farmers by aiding in pest identification, pest management planning, and pest management education. Pest identification is key to choosing the correct treatment and management strategy since treatments might not work without correctly identifying the pest or crop issue. Farmers are busy and cannot always stay up to date on new invasive weeds and insects. Additionally, climate change and extreme weather events are causing changes in pest populations.
Performance targets from proposal:
50 service providers will advise a total of 150 farmers about how to improve their pest management practice by scouting fields, identifying pests, using thresholds, and using a mixture of pest control techniques as a result of participating in this project.