The Wisconsin Apple Growers Association, four grower networks, one consultant, NRCS and UW researchers are working with CIAS to develop a production approach that reduces grower reliance on high-risk pesticides. These older pesticides, particularly Guthion and Imidan, are targeted for phase-out and reduction, respectively, as the EPA administers the federal Food Quality Protection Act.
In the Eco-Fruit project’s first two years, growers reduced pesticide risk by 58% and increased their reliance on IPM strategies by 13%. The project has both policy and field components that emable growers to adopt new approaches to pest management. Although initated in 2000 as a project specific to apple production, cherry growers started their own network in 2004 and berry growers are joining the effort in 2006. The project also works with the Upper Midwest Organic Tree Fruit Network.
Three elements comprise the project’s work in field with growers. Coaching at the orchard level gives growers the confidence to try new approaches to pest management and provides them with an opportunity to learn to make decisions based on sound data. The project teaches growers one-on-one to monitor and assess pest management needs in the field, putting them in a better position to rely on site-specific data to make decisions.
Access to new tools makes it possible for growers to learn their value without having to purchase them. Investing up-front in weather monitors, traps and other tools is a tough sell if a grower isn’t confident that he or she will use them.
Grower networks give farmers additional support in making change at the orchard level and add an element of friendly competition to the goal of pesticide risk reduction. Professional development for agricultural professionals, such as county Extension educators, has been a key component of supporting these networks. Extending the networks through a blog is being field tested in 2006-2007 growing seasons.
Growers rated access to IPM tools (traps, weather monitors) as the single most important aspect of the program. Growers considered one-on-one coaching, the networks, access to UW expertise and in-field demonstrations as very important to their success. Growers reported considerable improvement in farm management as a result of participating in the project.
The project’s long-term success depends on steady support for growers to make changes in their orchards. The USDA/NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a federal conservation program intended to assist farmers in their efforts to retool. EQIP sets standards for a variety of farm management practices, including the Pest Management 595 standard. The Eco-Fruit project helped to establish an orchard-specific 595 standard for the 2005 growing season to cost-share IPM scouting at 50%. About 850 acres and 13 growers enrolled at $39/acre (about $100,000). The 2006 allocation for statewide signup doubled to $200,000, and 14 growers managing 700 acres have been invited to enroll. A total of 24 apple and cherry growers and 1472 acres of tree fruit were impacted by this pilot project. A revised orchard IPM standard that will provide incentive payments to orchardists for other IPM strategies is proposed for 2007. For local signups to work, professional development in fruit IPM is essential for the agricultural professionals administering EQIP. A workshop and field tours are planned for the summers of 2006 and 2007.
For more information on this project, go to www.thinkIPM.org.
- US EPA – Minor and Specialty Crops IPM Special Projects: “Pesticide reduction in WI fruit production,” 2006-2009
- USDA Special Projects pesticide reduction grants, 2002-present
- Center for Agricultural Partnerships, in cooperation with the US Environmental Protection Agency Headquarters: “EQIP for apple growers,” 2005
- American Farmland Trust, in cooperation with the US Environmental Protection Agency – Region V: “Pesticide Risk Reduction in WI Apple/Fruit Production,” 2004-2007
- USDA SARE PDP: “WI Eco-apple production education and outreach,” 2004-2006
- Anna Maenner, WI Apple Growers Association and WI Berry Growers Association
- Bill Stone, Brightonwoods Orchard, (SE WI)
- Dave Flannery, Apple Holler Orchard (SE WI)
- Jim Seaquist Orchards (Door Co.)
- Wendy and Ken Schaefer, Arrowhead Orchards (SE WI)
- Craig Schultz, Bushel and a Peck Orchard (Chippewa Valley)
- Eric Carlson, Blue Vista Farm (Lake Superior)
- Andy Merry, Merry’s Berries (Antigo)
- Dale Secher, Carandale Farm (Oregon)
- Tom Greene, IPM Insitute of North America
- John Aue, Threshold IPM Services
USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service:
- Pat Murphy
University of WI
- Dan Mahr, Entomology
- Patty McManus, Plant Pathology
- Teryl Roper and Jed Colquhoun, Horticulture
- Matt Stasiak, Peninsular Agricultural Research Station
- Michelle Miller and Regina Hirsch, CIAS
- Jerry Clark, UWEX-Chippewa Co.
- Paul Hartman, UWEX-Brown Co.
- Steve Huntzicker, UWEX-La Crosse Co.
- Steve Kohlstedt, UWEX-Richland Co.
- Kristin Krolowski, UWEX-Waukesha Co.
- Patti Nagai, UWEX-Racine Co.
- Vijaikumar Pandian, UWEX-Bayfield County