University of Vermont

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Vermont IPM: Integrated Pest Management for Vermont
“Vermont IPM Extension Implementation Program: 2017-2020”

Priority Area: IPM Implementation in Specialty Crops - Ornamentals/vegetables in greenhouses/high tunnels and nursery settings

Click here for the Greenhouse IPM website


Floricultural and other horticultural specialty crops are significant components of Vermont’s and the nation’s agricultural revenues, increasing 18% since 2009 (USDA 2015a). All US horticultural sales increased at least 11% from 2009 to 2014 (bedding plants and nursery stock up 11%; potted flowering plants up 24%) (USDA 2016). In Vermont, over 90% of the farms are small diversified, family-owned operations and specialty crops are critical for their economic survival (USDA 2015b). In 2012, 660 VT farms produced nursery and greenhouse/floriculture crops, with sales amounting to $25.5 million, ranking #5 in market value among other agricultural products (USDA 2015a, d). In 2014, Vermont reported having 542 organic farms, most of which produce vegetables (USDA 2015c). High tunnel vegetable production has increased significantly, extending the growing season and supplying higher quality crops for local markets. Nationwide, beginning farmers comprise 14% of all farms for greenhouse/nursery crops and vegetable production. Vermont is ranked 6th in the nation for number of beginning farmers (USDA 2012). The UVM Greenhouse IPM program addresses grower needs while improving environmental sustainability and profitability of the greenhouse industry in ME, NH and VT by reducing losses from arthropod pests and increasing growers’ revenues through IPM. “IPM First” is a VT-based program targeting individual, underserved growers. UVM personnel provide one-on-one instruction and support to growers with their pest problems, guiding them towards adopting IPM practices that meet their specific pest management priorities. The Tri-State Greenhouse IPM Workshop series is a successful 21-year-old program offered to growers in ME, NH and VT, reaching over 150 annually. These workshops include presentations on IPM implementation, using a hands-on training approach that growers prefer. According to the 2017 workshop evaluations, 58% were first-time attendees, showing that we are reaching beginning farmers in addition to well-established ones. Over 90% of participants learned new IPM techniques they intend to use in the future to reduce pesticide use and increase IPM adoption. Given the expansion of high tunnel production, vegetable growers now attend our greenhouse workshops seeking IPM advice. Arthropod pests have a serious impact on the revenues for these farms, and adoption of economically-viable IPM practices is essential. Many growers lack expertise in basic IPM tactics and seek Extension support to improve their skills. In a survey of high tunnel growers, over 50% of respondents applied general use pesticides and 18% applied restricted use products (Sideman et al., 2016). Less than 50% of the growers release natural enemies or use plant-mediated systems and only 55% id their pests or diseases. When asked what limits their use of biocontrol, 52% said a lack of knowledge about how to use them and 22% lack confidence that it will work (Skinner & Parker 2014, Sideman et al. 2016). In our surveys of growers recruited to take part in the UVM “IPM First” program, when asked what Extension could do to help them expand IPM adoption, 92% selected ‘hold educational workshops’, 85% chose ‘provide regular site visits’ and 77% picked ‘prepare/circulate factsheets’. In the survey of high tunnel growers, results were similar: 76% said ‘hold educational meetings’, 64% said ‘site visits’ and 60% said ‘prepare fact sheets’ (Skinner & Parker 2014, Sideman et al. 2016).

Approach -

1. Tri-State IPM-Workshops will be organized and offered for growers of greenhouse ornamentals, high tunnel vegetables and nurseries in ME, NH and VT annually and will include presentations on insect and disease-related IPM topics. Attendees will take part in hands-on demonstrations and receive information packets on current IPM topics.

2. “IPM First”-Five specialty crop operations will be enrolled annually, receiving on-site visits by specialists over the growing season to improve IPM skills.

3. Extension Outreach Education-Greenhouse/High Tunnel IPM website: Two Webinettes (10-minute narrated, web-based presentations), two IPM factsheets for workshops, 3 new pages on advanced IPM topics and three case studies on IPM adoption based on grower experiences (serving as a blueprint for other growers) will be developed and posted to our website. The website will be linked to the UVM PDC to promote this service as a critical step in the IPM process. IPM Facebook posts will be added and sent to the northeast region Greengrower listserve.

Last modified September 22 2017 02:28 PM

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