EPA recently awarded an agricultural grant for $131,758 to the University of Vermont for a project to develop and promote Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices to reduce the use of potentially harmful pesticides and lower risk to bees all while controlling pests and saving money.
Specifically, the UVM project is designed to reduce pesticide use and improve pest control, while increasing crop yields on 75 acres of hops in the Northeast. Under this project, researchers will develop and distribute outreach materials to help farmers adopt these practices. The project’s goal is to reduce insecticide and fungicide applications by 50 percent while decreasing numerous insect pests and downy mildew, a plant disease.
“We are very excited by the potential of this project to be a model that can be applied elsewhere to reduce pesticide use and help protect populations of pollinators in New England,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office.
“With the recent significant growth in hop production in the Northeast it is essential to develop integrated pest management practices for this new crop. Currently, there has been very limited work on how to protect and encourage the numerous beneficial insects in the hopyard to minimize pest outbreaks,” said Heather Darby, an Agronomic and Soils Specialist for the University of Vermont Extension.
The EPA grant promoting Integrated Pest Management helps develop pest management solutions that maximize crop production while minimizing the unintended impacts from use of pesticides in the environment. IPM relies on easy-to-implement, environmentally-sensitive practices that prevent pests from becoming a threat. These practices involve monitoring and identifying pests and taking preventive action before pesticides are used. If pesticides are needed, methods such as targeted spraying may be used.
It is hoped that this project in Vermont will contribute to finding ways to protect populations of bees, which researchers have documented significant population declines over the past several years. Factors that contribute to the decline in pollinators include: loss of habitat, parasites and disease, genetics, poor nutrition and pesticide exposure. EPA is engaged in national and international efforts to address these concerns.
- EPA grant for UVM Integrated Pest Management project: http://www.epa.gov/pestwise/grants/2013-r1-univ-vermont-factsheet.html
- EPA’s Regional Agricultural IPM Grants: http://www.epa.gov/pestwise/grants/regionalaggrants.html