Utah Pests News Spring 2009

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In the National News

Forests Becoming Source of Carbon Dioxide

Canada’s 1.2 million square miles of forests account for more than 7 percent of Earth’s total forest lands.  Once considered the “lungs of the planet” due to the amount of carbon they sequestered, they have recently shifted to becoming a carbon source.  Studies by the Canadian Forest Service show that due to wildfire damage and vast mountain pine beetle infestations, the forests may remain a source of carbon until at least 2022.

Efforts to Bolster National Adoption of School IPM

More than 50 USDA studies have documented unsafe and illegal use of pesticides and unnecessary pesticide exposure in U.S. schools.  Research shows that schools with IPM programs have up to 90% fewer pest problems and pest-related allergens compared to schools using pesticides.

A group of more than 30 professionals representing universities and federal agencies, and led by University of Arizona and the IPM Institute, have prepared "Pest Management Strategic Plan for IPM in Schools,” aiming for full (voluntary) adoption of IPM in schools by 2015.  It includes current conditions, pest management strategies, research and education needs, and a timeline to achieve the adoption goals.

USU and Utah Dept. of Ag. and Food are members of the Western Region IPM in Schools Working Group.

New Zealand Bans Endosulfan

In January 2009, New Zealand banned the use of endosulfan (Thionex), joining several other countries including all those in the European Union.  Currently, the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants is undertaking an assessment to list endosulfan for global restrictions.  In the U.S., endosulfan is used on cotton, vegetables, and other crops.  It is one of the most frequently reported causes of farmworker poisoning.  The U.S. EPA is currently reviewing petitions submitted in February 2008 to cancel uses of endosulfan.

Grass Buffers Filter Herbicide Residues

Agricultural Research Service studies show that using grass buffers around agricultural fields adjacent to riparian areas can reduce the amount of herbicide runoff from soil surface application by up to 90%.  Of the species tested, eastern gammagrass was most effective, with orchardgrass and switchgrass almost as effective.  The grass strip serves as a “filter,” degrading the herbicide (Atrazine) before it runs off onto adjacent sites or into shallow ground water.

Bt Crops Affect Non-Target Insects Less than Insecticides

ARS, University, and EPA scientists recently studied the effects of Bt crops on non-target insects by comparing their abundance in Bt crops and non-Bt crops without insecticides with those two types of crops with insecticides.  The results showed that the most influential factor was the insecticide applied and that broad-spectrum insecticides had a larger negative impact on non-target insects than the Bt crop fields.


Useful Web Sites and Publications

Web Sites

www.extension.org/organic%20production: a new organic agriculture resource on the eXtension Web site, authored by a community of university faculty and members of the agriculture industry.

urbanext.illinois.edu/containergardening/: helps in all aspects of container gardening, especially useful when growing vegetables in urban or small spaces.

www.cias.wisc.edu: the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (University of WI), and includes information on maximizing the dollar for a variety of cropping systems, as well as successful models of food distribution. 

Publications Available

• “Field Borders for Agronomic, Economic, and Wildlife Benefits” is a new online publication prepared by the University of Missouri to help growers establish habitats in field borders. Access it here.

• “Water, Agriculture, and You” summarizes research by The Rodale Institute showing the relationship between agricultural practices and ground and surface water quality. Also included are management recommendations, resources, and a bibliography. Access it here.

• “Organic Certification of Vegetable Operations” explains the organic certification process in detail. Produced by the University of Minnesota. Access it here.