New grant to support integrated pest management in Pennsylvania

University Park, Pa. -- The Pennsylvania IPM Program recently received a multi-year grant to continue its mission to reduce pesticide use in agricultural and urban settings.

The grant, awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institutes for Food and Agriculture (USDA/NIFA), will help PA IPM further its extension and outreach efforts to promoted integrated pest management practices that are economical and protect human health and the environment. The program will work with in both rural and urban areas to provide technologies, resources and educational opportunities across the state.

Focus areas include:

-- Agronomic crops. Supporting IPM programming as part of Penn State's Crop Management Extension Group Consortium. This component, led by John Tooker, will address reducing environmental and health risks in agriculture, preventing agricultural pollution, improving productivity, reducing costs, and increasing net farm income in crops, especially those supporting the dairy industry.

-- Specialty crops. Serving vegetable, greenhouse and Christmas tree industries. Led by Cathy Thomas, this component addresses vegetable insect management in central Pennsylvania and Christmas trees throughout the state.

-- Incorporating IPM into conservation programs. Led by David Biddinger, this component continues a successful relationship between PAIPM and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) of USDA. NRCS underwrites some of the costs that farmers incur when implementing IPM practices.

-- IPM in housing. Working with underserved audiences in inner cities. Led by Lyn Garling, this community-based component is primarily based in Philadelphia and addresses urban pests such as roaches, rats, mice and bed bugs as well as pesticide misuse.

-- IPM in schools. IPM is a PA Academic Standard for K-12 and is required for managing pests on school grounds. This component continues a 10-year effort to make schools safer and teach kids about responsible pest management.

-- IPM partnerships in wide-area pest monitoring for agronomic and vegetable crops. Developing information technologies for IPM including PA PIPE (Pest Information Platform for Extension and Education) at the state level. Penn State is a leader in using the Internet to help farmers and others track and predict pest development.

According to PA IPM Coordinator Ed Rajotte, each of these focus areas will address particular needs.

"For example, in agricultural programs, profitability and environmental degradation is important. In urban areas, human health has become a priority," Rajotte said.

The program plans to build upon the success of its Philadelphia School and Community Partnership (PSCIP), formed more than eight years ago to provide community-based solutions to manage pests effectively and safely in urban housing environments. Similar partnerships are planned in other urban areas of the state, including Pittsburgh and Harrisburg.

PA IPM will also continue to support IPM in schools. Pennsylvania is unique in that IPM is mandated within state-level academic standards for grades K12, in addition to regulations IPM be used in school buildings and on school grounds. PA IPM will support school districts in helping them incorporate IPM into their curriculum and to develop an IPM plan by providing hands-on workshops and training for teachers, administrators and facility managers.

For specialty crops, PA IPM will continue to build on previous projects. The program will work with high tunnel vegetable growers in Lancaster County to incorporate beneficial insects to control pests and reduces pesticide use. PA IPM will also work with Amish and Mennonite growers about using and IPM approach to manage pests.

Christmas tree growers will also benefit with an expanded scouting, trapping and scale management program. The program will work with interested growers to form crop management associations, allowing members to cost-share an IPM consultant. In addition, PA IPM will continue its support of Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) conservation programs to provide incentives for IPM adoption in specialty and field crops including tree fruit, grapes, tomatoes and field corn.

The Pennsylvania IPM program is a collaboration between Penn State and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture aimed at promoting integrated pest management in both agricultural and nonagricultural situations. For more information, contact the program at 814-865-2839, or visit http://www.paipm.org online.

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Last Updated June 25, 2010