THE U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced agricultural grants for integrated pest management (IPM) practices to reduce the use of potentially harmful pesticides and lower the risk to bees all while controlling pests and saving money.
"These collaborative projects can provide innovative solutions to reduce pesticide risks to pollinators and crops," said James Jones, assistant administrator for the EPA Office of Chemical Safety & Pollution Prevention. "Initiatives such as these will encourage others to adopt promising technologies and practices across the nation to reduce pesticide risks while maximizing crop production and protecting public health."
IPM relies on easy-to-implement, environmentally sensitive practices that prevent pests from becoming a threat. These practices involve monitoring and identifying pests and taking preventive action before pesticides are used. If pesticides are needed, methods such as targeted spraying may be used.
EPA said these grants will expand public/private stewardship efforts and reduce pesticide risk in agriculture:
* Louisiana State University received a grant for its project to minimize impacts to bees from insecticides used in mosquito control. Mosquito control is critical for public health, but insecticides can be hazardous to bees. Bees are essential for crop production and ensuring a healthy food supply. Practices and guidelines resulting from the project will be distributed to mosquito control districts and beekeepers throughout the U.S.
* A University of Vermont project looks to reduce pesticide use and improve pest control while increasing crop yields on 75 acres of hops in the Northeast. The awardees will also develop and distribute outreach materials to help farmers adopt these practices. The project's goal is to reduce herbicide and fungicide applications by 50% while decreasing downy mildew, a plant disease.
* A Pennsylvania State University project will evaluate how to protect bees and crops by reducing reliance on neonicotinoid pesticide seed treatments and exploring the benefits of growing crops without them. IPM in no-till grain fields will be used to control slugs and other pests that damage corn and soybeans. Researchers will share their findings with mid-Atlantic growers and agricultural professionals.
EPA said protecting bee populations is among its top priorities. Some of the factors that are contributing to the decline in pollinators include: loss of habitat, parasites, disease, genetics, poor nutrition and pesticide exposure.
EPA said it is engaged in national and international efforts to address these concerns. The agency is working with beekeepers, growers, pesticide manufacturers, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and states to apply technologies to reduce pesticide exposure to bees. These efforts will advance best management practices, enhance enforcement and ensure that real-world pollinator risks are accounted for in the agency's pesticide regulatory decisions.
IPM grants will supplement these efforts as well as provide solutions to maximize crop production while minimizing the unintended impacts from pesticides.