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

Priority Area: IPM for Pollinator Health


Managed and native pollinators are important to Vermont agriculture. In 2016, the Vermont legislature passed a bill (Act 83) creating a Pollinator Protection Committee to “evaluate the causes and occurrences of reduced pollinator populations in the State; and to recommend measures the State can adopt to conserve and protect pollinator populations.” The membership of the committee included the VT Secretary of Agriculture, a UVM employee with knowledge of pollinators, a tree fruit and vegetable grower, a greenhouse/nursery operator, a pesticide dealer and a non-profit organization advocating for pollinators. The committee prepared a report in February 2017 with recommendations to the Governor and the Vermont legislature for pollinator protection: Key themes in the report included 1) native pollinators are vital to Vermont’s agricultural systems, thus providing healthy habitats for managed and native pollinators should be considered wherever possible (rural, suburban, urban landscapes) 2) Education and outreach about pollinator health are essential, not only to key stakeholders (pesticide applicators & sellers, organic and conventional farmers, local, state and federal government land managers) but also to homeowners and the general public 3) Improving and maintaining healthy populations of managed honeybees can protect native bees and requires eliminating exposures of pollinators to pesticides, especially those that are highly toxic to bees, or those that may have synergistic effects, such as when used in combination with other pesticides (certain fungicides). The VT EIP Priority Area on IPM Health for Pollinators will address these three key themes developed by the Pollinator Protection Committee through the UVM Fruit IPM Program, the Greenhouse IPM Program and the UVM MG Program. The UVM Fruit IPM Program will conduct an orchard-based survey of pollinators and offer outreach extension education on IPM practices to protect pollinator health; the Greenhouse IPM program will work with greenhouse and nursery operators in a pilot habitat program and offer outreach extension education on IPM practices to protect pollinator health and the MG program will offer a short course educating and promoting IPM practices to enhance pollinators on small acreage properties and offer outreach extension education to the general public.

Approach  - 

1. Orchard Pollinator Survey-Issues with balancing crop protection and pollinator conservation in orchards are critical to Vermont fruit growers (VT Pollinator Protection Committee, 2017), but sustainable IPM programs that do that are nuanced and require continued research and outreach efforts (Biddinger and Rajotte 2015). In a 2017 UVM Fruit Program Apple Survey, growers cited more information was needed on pollinator issues.

  • Orchard pollinator community composition will be assessed in two orchards per year using pan traps to collect pollinators weekly throughout the growing season (Joshi et al. 2015). Collected insects will be identified to develop baseline data for use in developing or assessing IPM programs protective of pollinators in orchard systems. Abundance, diversity, and community composition of pollinators in orchards will be catalogued. Educational outreach on IPM and pollinator health will be offered to fruit growers through on-farm workshops, listserves and newsletters.

2. Pollinator Habitat Program for ornamentals/vegetables in greenhouses/high tunnels and nursery settings-The careless use of pesticides, habitat loss and the displacement of native by introduced species contributes to declines in beneficial insects, such as pollinators like the rusty patched bumblebee and important natural enemies of greenhouse/ high tunnel pests including aphids and thrips. Encouraging biodiversity of native natural enemies within a greenhouse/high tunnel/nursery-landscape setting by providing enticing habitat may reduce pest populations thus eliminating the need for harmful chemical applications while protecting pollinators and other taxa. Growers at past Tri-State Greenhouse IPM Workshops indicated that they want more information on pollinator safety, pesticide compatibility with natural enemies and information on how to support native pollinators by growing plants around greenhouses to support and attract beneficial insects (Skinner 2015-2017).

  • Three operations will be enrolled to encourage conservation of pollinators for over three years. Habitat plantings at each site will be established with annual and native perennial plant varieties useable for sale as cut flowers, providing continual floral resources to attract the pollinators and beneficials that provide pest management. Beneficial insects (pollinators, predators and parasitoids) will be surveyed at the three habitat plantings monthly from May-September. Sticky cards, visual inspections and plant tapping to dislodge insects will be used to quantify populations. A subsample of the pollinators and beneficials will be collected and identified to genus and/or species. An educational program with signs and brochures will be established at the pilot sites to increase awareness among growers and the public about pollinators and their protection (primarily from pesticides). Additional IPM factsheets, Facebook posts and updated web information on best management practices for pollinator health will be offered. Information on the benefits of pollinator habitats, with how to set up and maintain plantings will be covered through educational presentations at grower workshops to increase adoption of this IPM strategy to protect pollinator health.

3. Master Gardener Short Course-

  • The MG program is uniquely positioned to reach private landowners and gardeners and will develop and offer a new MG Short Course, “Living on the Land: Encouraging small land owners to use IPM to attract pollinators and reduce pesticide use”. The course will be offered using an interactive online webinar platform. Five two hour sessions may include: 1) Status of pollinators 2) Promoting pollinator habitat 3) IPM practices to encourage pollinator health 4) Small scale landscape design for pollinators 5) Keeping bees on small acreage. Each session would incorporate expertise from researchers/extension, bee keepers and growers of bee-pollinated crops. Handouts covering the course information will be developed by the MG program and the PDC to be offered at MG information booths at fairs, farmers markets and other events. The Short Course would be also be archived on the MG website so it can be accessed throughout the year.

Last modified October 02 2017 11:40 AM

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