Research

Intercropping to Create Local Refugia for Natural Enemies of Arthropod Pests: Flowers and Birds in Organic Agroecosystems

Farmer surveys conducted during the first year of a multi-year research program investigating the diversity and utilization of North-central Florida farmlands by birds demonstrated a great interest by organic producers in the potential impact birds have on insect populations in their cropping systems (Jacobson at al. 2003). They expressed interest in management recommendations designed to enhance the presence and foraging activities of insectivorous birds on their farms. Therefore based upon this interest we developed the following objectives for this study:

Evaluation of Glandular-Haired, Potato Leafhopper Resistant Alfalfa for Organic Farming Systems

Objectives

The primary objective of this proposal was to determine the ability to produce organically grown alfalfa in areas with significant potato leaf hopper pressure and then to share this capability with organic growers. Specific experimental objectives were:

1. Determine if glandular-haired, PLH resistant alfalfa can be produced organically,

2. Determine if organically grown glandular-haired, PLH resistant alfalfa can reduce PLH density,

Evaluation of screened high tunnels for production of organic vegetables in Colorado

Objectives

The objectives of this study were: ƒ

To evaluate the efficacy of high tunnel structures covered with insect excluding materials to reduce insect vectored diseases in an organic production system. ƒ

To evaluate the effect of different covering materials on the tunnel growing environment (temperature, relative humidity, and radiation). ƒ

To compare costs and benefits of different tunnel covering materials as they apply to plant protection under organic production. ƒ

Prioritizing research, education and regulatory pest management needs of organic potato farmers through participatory strategic planning

USDA funding of organic farming research and outreach is disproportionate compared to the amount of U.S. certified organic land. According to Organic Farming Research Foundation’s State of the States 2nd Edition, 0.3 – 2% of U.S. farmland is certified organic, but only 0.06% of land grant research acres is certified organic. This project addressed the disparity of organic research and Organic Farming Research Foundation’s goal of obtaining a fair share of research funding for organic foods and farming.

Determining habitat requirements for natural enemies of crop pests

One of the Organic Farming Research Foundation’s stated goals is to “take a systemsmanagement (rather than an input-substitution) approach to solving production problems.” This goal is exactly in line with my research: I am studying the mechanisms of natural pest control to promote systems management rather than input-substitution solutions to pest problems. Inputsubstitution approaches to pest control use organic pesticides in place of the more common conventional chemicals, which farmers have found time and again to be ineffective.

Fungi, Predatory Mites and Guardian Plants for Thrips IPM in Organic Greenhouse Ornamentals

This project addressed a serious pest of organic greenhouse production nationally. In Vermont, thrips are the most common reason for organic growers suspending organic practices in their greenhouse crops, fearing the loss of their entire crop to this persistent virus-transmitting pest. Even growers who rely on chemical control find the standard insecticides ineffective due to resistant pest populations. Biological control approaches for thrips will directly benefit organic producers, but will also meet the need of “traditional” growers who seek to produce plants more ecologically.

Integrating songbird conservation and insect pest management in organic California vineyards

Objectives Statement

Test the hypothesis that biological control of cicadellid and lepidopteran vineyard pests is enhanced through conservation of insectivorous birds via the establishment of songbird nest boxes. 

Enhancement of Biological Control with Insectary Plantings

Beneficial insectary planting is a form of conservation biological control that involves introducing flowering plants into agricultural and horticultural systems to increase nectar and pollen resources required by some natural enemies of insect pests (Landis et al. 2000). Many predatory and parasitic insects rely on pollen and nectar for their survival and reproductive success. Two examples of such insect groups are hoverflies (Diptera: Syrphidae) and several species of predatory and parasitic wasps (Hymenoptera).

Cucumber beetle mass trap development and field evaluation

On most farms, Diabrotica beetles are only severe in certain years, a pattern for which there is yet no analysis. Therefore, for most organic farms these beetles are tolerable in most years. However, in certain seasons some help in reducing numbers may mean the survival of many crops, particularly where beetle damage to seedlings essentially destroys the crop. Example crops are beans and early season cucumbers. Sweet corn is also such a crop, although the damage only interferes with the proportion of kernels which are fertilized.

Control of flea beetle in cole crops with cruciferous trap crops

Objectives: To evaluate a wide variety of potential trap crops for use in cole crop production. To test various configurations of trap crop plantings in production fields to test the potential for reducing damage by flea beetles to crops.

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