- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Entomologist Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and a member of the UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences faculty, has just received one of three Pest Management Alliance Grants awarded by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) to reduce the use of pesticides over a three-year period.
This is good news for the environment, people and pollinators.Parrella, principal investigator of the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Bedding and Container Color Plant Program, said the three-year grant, ending in 2012, aims to reduce “overall pesticide use in the production of bedding and container color plants by 30 percent and organophosphate, carbamate and pyrethroid use to 15 percent of total insecticide applications."
“These older compounds are of high regulatory concern because of their toxicity and detection in surface water,” Parrella said.
Bedding and container color plants are part of the environmental horticulture industry “that provides flowering plants for urban landscapes and for indoor and outdoor containers as decorations,” he said. “These plants are produced and purchased year-round for their aesthetics.”
“In California, production of these plants is rapid: an eight- to 10-week crop cycle is typical,” Parrella said. “Most growers make their profits from quick turnover of a large number of plants, which results in low tolerance for pest damage and a perception that generally slower biological control options are not appropriate. If not appropriately diagnosed and treated, many pests have the potential to remain with the plants when sold. One to three pesticide applications weekly during the entire crop cycle are not unusual.”The program, managed by entomologist Christine Casey (left), will receive $139,000 over the next three years. Funds are derived from pesticide sales and registration fees.
“What makes this project different is that the emphasis will be on teaching the growers how to pick the tools that will work best for them, rather than implanting a set IPM program,” said Casey, who holds a doctorate in entomology from UC Davis.
“Every bedding plant producer has a unique mix of plant species and production methods that make standardization impossible,” she said.The project will include a collaborative, interdisciplinary team of experts to develop IPM strategies to manage pests with less-toxic pesticides and fewer applications. An IPM guide for bedding plants, a pocket guide for pest identification and a Web site will be developed to share the information. Parrella and Casey will be launching a Web site within several months.