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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
From March 15 and throughout the 1997 growing season, intensive weekly sampling of herbivorous insects (mainly leafhoppers and thrips) and associated natural enemies (mainly Anagrus sp and Orius sp) have been conducted in two adjacent Chardonnay vineyard blocks of 5 acres each, North of Hopland. Both blocks are managed organically with half of the area of each block planted to summer cover crops (buckwheat and sunflower), and the other half maintained with bare ground.
To test the use of trap boards and lures based on ammonia (ammonium carbonate and household ammonia) to concentrate squash bugs in a small area for monitoring or control. Although I received funding from the OFRF for just one year, 1997, 1 actually started the experiments in my proposal in 1996 and continued with a different approach in 1997.