IPM Voice Newsletter                               January 2017
In This Issue: Scientists Suggest Ten Policies to Protect Pollinators; Farmers Turn to Falcons to Deter Bird Pests; Anti-Fertility Rat Control Technology Earns EPA Approval
Scientists Suggest Ten Policies to Protect Pollinators

An international team of researchers has proposed ten policies to be adopted worldwide to protect and conserve pollinators. The new paper follows a 2016 global thematic assessment from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services that confirmed large-scale declines in pollinators in North America and northern Europe. The team of independent scientists addressed the report findings and proposed policies:
1. Raise pesticide regulatory standards.
2. Promote integrated pest management (IPM).
3. Include indirect and sublethal effects in genetically modified (GM) crop risk assessments.
4. Regulate movement of managed pollinators.
5. Develop incentives, such as insurance schemes, to help farmers benefit from ecosystem services instead of agrochemicals.
6. Recognize pollination as an agricultural input in extension services.
7. Support diversified farming systems.
8. Conserve and restore "green infrastructure" (a network of habitats that pollinators can move between) in agricultural and urban landscapes.
9. Develop long-term monitoring of pollinators and pollination.
10. Fund participatory research on improving yields in organic, diversified, and ecologically intensified farming.
Many governments are now aware of the plight of pollinators and are fostering high-level political commitment to work for their protection. The authors contend that adoption of these ten suggested policies globally will work synergistically to help conservation processes in alignment with growing political will.
The authors emphasize that, unsurprisingly, agriculture plays a large part in the plight of pollinators through land-use change, tillage, agrochemical use and declines in traditional farming practices. Agriculture can work to conserve pollinators, however, through a shift to ecological intensification (managing ecological functions such as pollination and natural pest control as a part of high-production agriculture) and diversified farming systems. They suggest governments work to create market-based instruments including financial and crop insurance incentives to encourage small farmers to adopt these methods of agriculture.
With regard to IPM, the authors note that it "can decrease pesticide use and reduces risk to non-target organisms, so it should be linked to pollinator health and pollination." They suggest governments follow the International Code of Conduct on Pesticide Management published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and the Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive, published by the European Union (EU). These documents provide management frameworks for the production, regulation, management and use of pesticides, and give special attention to IPM methods, including biological control, as a means of reducing reliance on and risks from pesticides.
The authors emphasize that the final suggested policy in the list acts as a keystone for the rest: governments must fund research on how to improve yields in agricultural systems known to support pollinators. The authors note that this policy is consistent with concurrent global goals of improving food production and food security, especially for small farms and farmers, who represent 80% of the total farming workforce. The authors contend that the current national and international research funding frameworks are well positioned to encourage research that shares knowledge between scientists, farmers, stakeholders and policy-makers.

Read more on the suggested policies at
Phys.org or read the full report in Science.
Farmers Turn to Falcons to Deter Bird Pests

Farmers of soft-skinned berry crops in the United States have been employing a new tool to rid themselves of avian pests: professional falconry. Faced with small bird pests that quickly adapt to IPM techniques, growers have found the use of falcons in orchards to be particularly effective. As a result, the number of professional bird abatement businesses has been growing.
A variety of small bird species feast on fruit crops, but European starling is one of the most common and troublesome. An invasive pest that was brought to North America in 1890 as part of a plan to introduce every bird species mentioned in the works of William Shakespeare to the continent, European starling is now found throughout North America and often plagues growers of grapes and blueberries. Vintners often have the most to lose, as wine sales are lucrative and a flock of pest birds can decimate a crop quickly. Since the birds move in large flocks and are difficult to kill en masse, a range of deterrent techniques have been employed to combat them, from air cannons, mylar ribbons, shotguns, netting over vines and loudspeakers to inflatable air "dancers." However, pest birds soon adapt and learn there are no consequences to these measures, returning in large numbers to feast on crops without fear.
Specialized companies offering bird abatement services have been growing in number and use specially trained raptors, usually peregrine falcons, to chase and attack small birds and make their presence known. Professional falconry services can be expensive for farmers, but advocates contend that they are low-impact and very effective: one grower in Napa Valley currently employing a professional falconer has estimated an 80 to 90% reduction in pest birds, and another notes that the simple appearance of his falconer's truck causes his bird pests to make a speedy exit.
Experts note that falconry is effective because birds never adapt to the presence of actual predators. As Glenn Stewart, director of the Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group, says, "It may not be the most scientific expression, but [pest birds] know deep within their being that the wing beat and silhouette of a falcon is dangerous to them. They don't even have to be caught or attacked, they just see the wing beat and silhouette over and over again, and they decide to go eat someplace else. That's why [falconry] works. It's a biological fact of life, that they are fearful of the falcons."
For more on the use of falcons to rid orchards of avian pests, please visit Modern Farmer or the Smithsonian Magazine.

Anti-Fertility Rat Control Technology Earns EPA Approval

The US EPA has approved a new rodent control technology that manages rat populations via fertility control. ContraPest, the first EPA-registered product by the Flagstaff, Arizona biotechnology company SenesTech, is a liquid rodent bait that causes egg loss and impairs sperm development in rodents. Supported by seven years of research, the product is designed to be environmentally friendly, safe to humans and safe to non-target organisms. SenesTech states that the dosage is rat-specific, so if non-target animals eat the bait or if a predator eats a rat affected by the bait, they would not be affected. The bait is also metabolized by rats in approximately fifteen minutes and becomes inactive when excreted. The company also states that when the product comes into contact with soil or water, it is quickly broken down into inactive by-products.
Research for the development of ContraPest was conducted in New York City subways via a $1.1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The active ingredient is 4-vinylcyclohexene-diepoxide, a molecule that has been used to create models of human menopause in mice. As SenesTech's CEO Loretta Mayer explains, "The compound ... specifically targets a cascade of events in the ovarian follicle, or where the egg is nested within the ovary. That cascade of events sets up the message that the cells will die." SenesTech's work has received accolades for being a more humane method of reducing rat populations, including from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
For more on this new technology, please visit Pest Control Technology, CityLab or SenesTech's home site.
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Upcoming IPM-Related Meetings and Conferences
February 6-7, 2017. Annual Conference, Association of Applied IPM Ecologists. Napa, CA
March 2-3, 2017. Biocontrols USA West 2017 Conference and Expo. Reno, NV

March 19-22, 2018.
Ninth International IPM Symposium. Baltimore, MD
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