Pest Management

The educational materials listed on this page are about Pest Management.

Producers must control a wide range of insect, weed and disease pests that can disrupt the healthy growth of crops. Given increasing resistance to chemical control methods (including organic pesticides and natural pesticides) farmers are increasingly adopting multifaceted strategies to keep pests at bay. These strategies include the biological controls and cultural controls featured in integrated pest management (IPM) as well as traditional chemical and physical controls. Integrated pest management (IPM) uses a range of ecological strategies to prevent pest damage and resorts to the use of pesticides only when monitoring indicates such action is required to avoid economic loss. Whole farm pest management systems build upon the biological pest control approach of IPM systems by integrating ecological pest management practices into all aspects of crop production. Soil organic matter and nutrient management, tillage, crop rotation and field boundaries, borders and buffers all play an important role in both increasing crop pest resistance and reducing pest pressures. Weed control is a challenge on all types of farm operations. A successful weed management plan will vary depending on the type of operation and whether it is conventional or organic. Helpful practices in an integrated weed management plan may include chemical weed control (conventional and organic herbicides), the use of mulches (living mulch or cover crops, killed mulches, plastic mulch), tillage or cultivation, crop rotation, and more novel techniques such as soil solarization or using geese or goats for weed control.

SARE’s Manage Insects on your Farm addresses the principles of ecological pest management. A Whole Farm Approach to Managing Pests provides tips for designing whole-farm pest management solutions. Managing Cover Crops Profitably, Crop Rotations on Organic Farms and Steel in the Field also provide helpful insights into the roles cover crops, rotations and tillage can play in pest management.

Farmers need to understand disease management on the farm to employ effective plant disease control methods. Becoming familiar with crop diseases means utilizing myriad effective strategies to prevent and control diseases. Various integrated management practices control the spread of disease including biological control, physical control and cultural control. Chemical control may include synthetic fungicides, while organic producers rely on an organic fungicide or other natural fungicide to aid in crop protection. For example, disease management in tomatoes, which are susceptible to many diseases, includes the use of resistant cultivars, sanitation, sound cultural practices and fungicide for tomatoes. While there are many chemicals available for different crops, such as fungicide for grass or soybean fungicides, holistic or integrated approaches to disease management are also important tools for effective plant disease control. Key practices include integrated crop and livestock systemscrop rotation, utilizing disease resistant varieties and cultivarscultural controlbiological controlphysical controlchemical control, and prevention.

Farmer and Rancher Research in the West

Making changes on the farm or ranch involves taking risks. One or two years spent experimenting can lead to a financial hit too difficult to recover from. That’s where Western SARE’s Farmer/Rancher and Professional + Producer grants help out. Grantees, like the ones highlighted in this report, come up with the possible solution to a problem they face on their farm or ranch, propose a way to research the idea, and then Western SARE provides the critical support needed to experiment.The projects explore sustainable solutions to problems through on-farm research, demonstration, and education. It is expected that the results are shared with other producers. The highlights you’ll read here are just a fraction of the creative projects attempting to solve real-world problems the grants programs have funded. 

IPM for Coffee Berry Borer

When the coffee berry borer arrived in Hawaii 2010, Suzanne Shriner had a hard conversation with her parents. “I sat down with them at the kitchen table and told them we might have to get out of the coffee business,” she remembered. “It was a pretty sober moment, and it wouldn’t have been a good […]

Growers Learn Pheromone-Based Monitoring

Growers are turning to Integrated Pest Management (IPM) tools in order to reduce the use of pesticides on their farm. Pheromone-based monitoring is one such technique used to manipulate the behavior of insect pests. It is a practice that could work well in the Northern Plains; however, according to Dr. Gadi V.P. Reddy of Montana […]

Winter 2018 Simply Sustainable

In this Issue:

  • Building Capacity for Blackfeet Farmers
  • Training for Micronesian Extension Agents
  • A New Breed of Ranchers
  • Agritourism Opportunities
  • Benefits from Owls 
  • And more

Wireworms in Western Washington

Christine Langley has successfully run Lopez Harvest organic farm on Lopez Island in Washington state’s famed San Juan Islands for more than two decades. But for most of that, she wasn’t fighting wireworms.  Those showed up about a dozen years ago, and have made her job a lot harder.  “I grow a lot of lettuce […]

Pueo are Much More than Pest-Management

If you can encourage a threatened native species, help control non-native pests, benefit the state’s farmers and preserve a culturally important icon, you’ve hit an ecological grand slam.  That’s exactly what the University of Hawaii’s Melissa Price is trying to do with the islands’ pueo owls. The striking, dark birds are a species of short-eared, […]

How Well Does Biodegradable Plastic Mulch Degrade in Compost and Soil?

Biodegradable plastic mulches are now commercially available, and they are designed so that they can be tilled directly into the soil to degrade. Their adoption could alleviate the disposal problem of polyethylene mulch, but there is the need to evaluate how well they degrade under different environmental conditions.

California Strawberry and Research on Compost for Strawberry Health

California strawberry production is at a pivotal point, struggling with new plant diseases due to the phase-out of the fumigant methyl bromide. This video explores the current issues facing strawberry growers in California and explains the use of compost to suppress disease and promote strawberry plant health.