IPM Voice Newsletter                                                                                                                  May 2015

Perspectives on New Overhead Charges on IPM Funds

In our last newsletter, we reported on how the consolidation of federal IPM funds into one line of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) budget changes how these funds are distributed and dispersed. One aspect of this consolidation that we mentioned was the move of some significant funds from lines that were previously exempt from overhead charges by host institutions into the 406 integrated funding line, allowing for host institution charges in these categories. This effectively means that all NIFA IPM grants can now have up to 30% of the total award redirected to the host institution rather than going towards IPM programming or projects. Stakeholders within IPM communities shared perspectives on how this change may affect IPM programming.

 

The North Central Cooperative Extension Association (NCCEA) is among a group of stakeholders that see these overhead fees as a threat to the quantity and quality of IPM programs. "IPM is more important than ever with current pressures like pest resistance, making it essential to keep our toolbox full. At current funding levels we aren't meeting the demand and this erosion of funds further limits capacity to provide education and training on integrated tactics," said Chris Boerboom, chair of the NCCEA. The Association hopes to move the entire consolidated funding line back into Extension funding, and estimates that a budget increase of $3M would be required to maintain approximate current funding levels if it is not possible to relocate the funds back in the overhead-exempt extension category. "Maintaining a national IPM network rather than a spattering of individual programs is critical for American agriculture, and every dollar is essential to making this happen," concluded Boerboom. 

 

However, a positive long-term outcome of this shift could be to incentivize university administrators to support IPM programs. Stakeholders on this side of the debate see an opportunity in the new situation to win over political heavyweights within land grant and other universities who are better equipped to advocate for IPM funds.  In the view of Jim VanKirk, director of the Southern Region IPM Center, "The Land Grant University system is the most effective champion for public funding of IPM, and unfortunately this system depends on indirect charges to help pay the bills. The university mission of creating and disseminating knowledge (research and education) often takes a back seat. Grants with overhead charges resonate with the economic priorities of university administrators." If increased overhead allowances lead universities to value IPM programs more, they may work harder to preserve or even increase public IPM funding. "The choice here isn't between grants with or without indirect charges. It's between preserving - or even increasing -  the total funding pool or watching it dwindle away without support," VanKirk says.

 

Stakeholders on both sides of the debate share common goals of expandinng support for IPM implementation.  The debate continues as to how the change in overhead charges will impact the long-term sustainability of these programs. In the short term, these charges are resulting in cuts in personnel, programs and implementation for IPM.

New Drone Regulations and Research Provide IPM Opportunities

The use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), more commonly known as drones, has been hotly debated in the last year - including use in agriculture. Early in May two announcements about UAV regulations for use in food production made headlines. One involved the approval of a 207 lb. helicopter as a sprayer for crop applications. Though UAVs have been used as sprayers in Japan for years, the practice was banned in the United States until this month. The second newsworthy event was a deal between the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority and the company PrecisionHawk to conduct research on UAV use in agriculture.

 

What does all of this mean for IPM? An entire session at the 8th International IPM Symposium in March investigated this very question. Ken Giles who has worked on trials at UC Davis testing UAV pesticide and herbicide delivery systems, spoke about the speed and precision of this application method. They can complete three to seven acres per hour whereas ground application speed is an acre per hour or less. Later in the day, Manoj Karkee spoke on the use of UAVs for both passive and active applications. Passive applications include collecting data, monitoring and scouting to detect disease and pest problems. Active applications used the UAV itself to accomplish tasks such as applying chemicals, deterring bird pests and drying fruit crops to prevent cracking. However, several challenges such as the short battery life of the UAVs and the need to sort and process collected data into usable information require further attention. Watch recordings of these presentations and download slides from the Northeastern IPM Center website

Scientists Investigate Stink Bug Family Feud for Use in Biocontrol

Researchers at West Virginia University are investigating the use of the spined soldier bug as biological control for the destructive agricultural pest, brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB). Even though both species belong to the stink bug family, the spined soldier bug is a BMSB predator. In fact, their genetic similarities are what make the soldier bug particularly suited to control BMSB. The two insect species follow the same life cycle - they emerge at the same time in spring each year and pass through their five developmental stages or instars to adulthood at similar paces.

 

The research team at West Virginia University performed lab experiments that pitted spined soldier bugs against BMSB in several developmental stages. They found that soldier bugs are effective against BMSB younger than the fourth instar.  Once BMSB reach adulthood, spined soldier bugs no longer attacked BMSB. The scientists believe this is because spined soldier bugs lifts prey off the ground to feed, and an adult BMSB is too large to do this. For agriculture, this research indicates that soldier bugs are not good biological control for emerging adult BMSB in the spring, but can attack eggs and younger BMSB as the season progresses. The next stage is to take this relationship to the field to see if the spined soldier bug attacks BMSB when there are alternative food sources available.

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Upcoming IPM-Related Meetings and Conferences

August 9-13, 2015.International Congress on Invertebrate Pathology and Microbial Control and the 48th Annual meeting of the Society for Invertebrate Pathology. Vancouver, Canada 

August 24-27, 2015.  The XVII International Plant Protection Congress. Berlin, Germany

Sept. 20-22, 2015. First Global Minor Use Priority Setting Workshop: Seeking Pest Management Solutions for Growers Around the World. Chicago, IL 

Sept. 22-23, 2015. IR-4 Food Use Workshop (FUW). Chicago, IL

Sept. 24, 2015. IR-4 BioPesticide Workshop. Chicago, IL 

November 15-18, 2015. Entomology 2015, Synergy in Science: Partnering for Solutions. Minneapolis, MN 

IPM Voice is an independent, non-profit organization advocating for integrated pest management (IPM) that is genuinely progressive and seeks continuous improvement of environmental, social and economic conditions through application of accepted scientific principles.  IPM Voice was formed in 2010 by more than 35 professionals working to expand the benefits IPM has provided to agriculture and communities for more than 40 years.

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