IPM Voice Newsletter September 2015
Stopgap Appropriations Measure Expected, Likely to Impact IPM Funding
Today is the deadline for a fiscal year (FY) 2016 appropriations bill from Congress and no matter the outcome, it will have marked implications for IPM program funding. In the July edition
of Voice, we reported that the Senate Appropriations Committee had passed a version of the appropriations bill that would move the consolidated Crop Protection funds from its current Section 406 Integrated Authority into the Smith Lever 3(d) funding line. The immediate implication of the Senate action is that the funds would no longer be eligible for indirect costs by host institutions (overhead). USDA legal counsel is still deliberating on other implications of this move for IPM programs. The House Committee's bill left the funds in the 406 Authority where they have been since FY 2014, leaving the conflict to be resolved to a Senate/House conference committee.
However, with the deadline at midnight today and no progress on a joint bill, it is very likely that a continuing resolution will be passed that would extend the appropriations bill for FY 2015 until December 11. Without additional guidance from Congress, a continuing resolution would not clarify whether the House or Senate version, or a full-year continuing resolution will be the ultimate outcome. Because all three of these paths would have implications for the distribution of funding, it is likely that new Requests for Applications or RFAs for FY IPM funding 2016 will be delayed until NIFA can confirm the funding structure with Congress.
Study Shows Opportunity to Improve Extension Through Knowledge Networks
Extension is a hallmark of the American Land Grant University system, transferring unbiased, useful information to growers and others. An article
in the spring edition of California Agriculture by Hoffman and co-authors explored the effectiveness of various knowledge-dissemination techniques and concluded that Cooperative Extension's role in grower education could be performed more effectively with an emphasis on "network-smart extension strategies."
Survey data collected by the authors indicates that growers learn more from personal experience and from others in their networks than formal learning and written information sources. Extension farm advisors were rated "very useful" by 63% of respondents. However, the authors also found that Cooperative Extension is not very effectively placed in these grower learning networks because excessive demands on their time and services prevent quality relationships and advice. They advocate that Extension's role in these networks is important for assuring that science and evidence temper anecdotal advice. They posit that Extension can accomplish this by using "network-smart extension strategies" such as acting as knowledge "brokers" between growers and professionals, forming alliances with other service professionals, emphasizing networking at outreach events and facilitating communities of practice among growers. Read more about the results of this study here
Integrated Pest and Weed Control Method, "Push-Pull", Featured in Grist
Last month, an article
published in Grist by Nathanael Johnson described an integrated insect and weed control method called push-pull and its applications in Africa. In this context, push-pull describes intercropping systems where plants with insecticidal properties are planted between rows of the cash crop to 'push' problem pests away from the crop, and species that attract problem insect varieties are planted around the cash crop to 'pull' the pests even farther away.
Image from Pickett, J.A., C.M. Woodcock, C.A.O. Midega and Z.R. Khan. 2014. "Push-pull farming systems
." Food Biotechnology Plant Biotechnology. Vol. 26: 125-132.
Zeyaur Khan, a scientist featured in the Grist article
, has developed push-pull planting systems in Kenya to repel stem borers, a serious grain pest in the area. His system also has herbicidal properties that control for another major production challenge - striga or witchweed.
While inter-planting crops within the cash crop decreases the area seeded into the cash crop, scientists have recorded as much as three times as much yield using push-pull. Farmers have also found another revenue source in livestock by using the grass and legume "push-pull" crops as forage. Additional benefits include added nutrients from nitrogen-fixing legumes, increased water retention and improved erosion prevention.
Study on Stink Bugs Aims to Improve IPM for Sweet Corn
Researchers at the University of Delaware performed studies on brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) damage in sweet corn with the intention of helping growers establish appropriate thresholds and maximize the effectiveness of control measures. In their study
, published in the Journal of Economic Entomology last month, they reported infesting sweet corn with varying numbers of BMSB at three key stages in ear development: silking, blister and milk.
The team discovered that damage at all stages of development was significant, but resulted in different production issues. Feeding during early developmental stages led to the greatest yield reduction while damage during the final stages led to the greatest reductions in quality. While damage was highest in ears exposed to the highest density of BMSB, the researchers found that even one bug (their lowest infestation level) caused significant economic losses. The team plans to investigate further how pesticide applications at different growth stages impact BMSB populations and crop damage. Read more about this study here
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Upcoming IPM-Related Meetings and Conferences
October 6-7, 2015. National IPM Coordinating Committee Meeting. Washington, DC
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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