For growers who would like to implement more integrated pest management practices but can’t afford to, help may be available.
The Natural Resources Conservation Services, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, offers payments under its voluntary Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to help farmers address resource concerns such as water quality, water quantity, air quality, soil loss, and wildlife.
IPM consultant Naná Simone of Wenatchee, Washington, said such payments could help growers make the leap to more advanced pest management practices or even transition to organic practices.
"To be able to get some financial assistance for something you would like to do can be really valuable," she said. For example, growers might be using mating disruption but still supplementing it with organophosphates such as Guthion or Lorsban. "They look at the cost of a program based on reduced-risk pesticides, and it’s daunting, and they also feel daunted by the grower management requirements. Maybe they can use some of these incentive payments to hire a consultant."
The Environmental Quality Incentives Program was introduced in the 1997 Farm Bill but is still evolving. Although improving irrigation and reducing erosion have been major focuses of the program, IPM practices also qualify, because they can have a positive impact on air quality and wildlife and reduce leaching of pesticides.
Planting of rose and strawberry beds near the orchard to enhance the biological control of leafrollers would be an acceptable practice, for example.
Simone has been hired by the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission for the next 18 months as the tree fruit industry EQIP coordinator to help orchardists apply for funding. The Washington State Horticultural Association and the Northwest Horticultural Council are also involved.
"I think the Tree Fruit Research Commission recognized that we have the end of Guthion