Jan 24, 2017
California projects aim to reduce pesticide use

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) has recognized several organizations for projects aimed at managing pests while using fewer pesticides. The awards recognize innovation, leadership, education and outreach by California based organizations that carry out pest management, according to DPR.

The six projects use integrated pest management (IPM) to manage pests, combining preventive and natural strategies such as releasing of parasitic insects and providing habitat for natural predators.

“Integrated pest management is an important tool in today’s society. I am impressed with the honorees’ creativity in finding solutions to pest problems without an overreliance on chemical methods” said DPR Director Brian Leahy.

Leahy presented the IPM Achievement Awards at the California Environmental Protection Agency headquarters in Sacramento.

This year’s award-winning projects are:

The Cherry Buckskin Project. Coordinated by the University of California Cooperative Extension, Contra Costa County Department of Agriculture and cherry growers, this project helps to prevent the establishment in Contra Costa County of cherry buckskin disease, which can wipe out entire orchards. It includes tree monitoring, removal of infected trees, and grower education, such as discouraging planting of ornamental plants that can host buckskin-disease-carrying insects called leafhoppers.

Virginia Creeper Leafhopper Project. The UC Cooperative Extension and Fetzer Vineyards have teamed up to manage a pest known as a Virginia creeper leafhopper in Lake and Mendocino county vineyards. The project involves teaching growers to identify the insects and the use of IPM practices such as releasing tiny parasitic wasps. The wasps lay their eggs in leafhopper eggs, destroying them before they hatch.

Riverside Unified School District IPM. This program trains custodians, food service workers, and teachers how to keep pests out of buildings, and to manage weeds and rodents without depending on regular pesticide sprays. The comprehensive program includes hiring an in-house IPM technician, continuous staff training, monthly custodial support meetings, and a class in green cleaning. The district has cut the number of cleaning products it uses, and has decreased pesticide use by approximately 70 percent.

The Pink Bollworm Program. This project involves introducing sterile pink bollworm moths to fields to disrupt the pests’ ability to reproduce and spread in California’s main cotton-growing regions. The program reduces dependence on pesticides and has prevented pink bollworm moths from becoming established in California’s major cotton region without the use of conventional pesticides for more than 40 years. It is organized by the California Cotton Pest Control Board, California Department of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture and Plant Health Inspection Service, and the National Cotton Council.

San Diego County Regional Airport Authority. The airport authority is being recognized for its work with a pest control contractor and the University of California to educate employees and airport-based businesses on identifying, preventing, and reporting pest problems using a computer app. The program credited with decreasing the presence of rodents.

San Luis Obispo County’s Project Apis m. This project funds honey bee research and education to protect bees. One undertaking provides almond growers with hedgerow seeds. The hedgerows provide habitat for bees as well as natural predatory insects beneficial in managing plant pests.

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