Jim Tette. Photo by K. Colton
Teamwork is the primary reason why the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program completed its twelfth year of activity on a note of success and accomplishment. Significant progress was made because the agricultural producers of our state continue to value the work of the IPM Program. They showed it by their participation as full members of the team of people who make IPM happen in New York.
The year was certainly a challenge in terms of pest management. Potato leafhoppers, late blight on tomatoes, small insects called thrips, which carry viruses to greenhouse crops, and leafrollers, which continue to damage apple crops, all had banner years. Fortunately there were IPM efforts underway that helped growers manage some of these pests effectively. Damage from others was at least mitigated by steps taken toward developing new IPM methods. For one, the leafroller, significant results will only come through a long-term effort exploring new options.
Working with the Statewide IPM Grower Advisory Committee has helped us gain a clear understanding of the priorities that agricultural producers have for the IPM Program. This 25-member committee serves as a sounding board, enabling producers to react to the way the program is progressing. It also plays a significant role in shaping the future of the Program. The committee carefully reviews the need for educational outreach and for the development of new IPM methods and recommends certain actions. It recognizes that level state funding for the past five years is beginning to create some unique constraints for all portions of the Program.
Through a strict accountability process, we have been able to determine that the bottom line for 1997 was that IPM efforts continued toprovide economic solutions to many pest problems facing agriculture in New York result in improved environmental stewardship on the part of New York agriculture, mostly through reduced loading of the environment increase the availability of alternative measures for managing pests so that producers are not caught in a squeeze due to pest or regulatory pressures obtain and disseminate information that reduces society's concerns over risks to health and the environment demonstrate that New York agriculture can be more sustainable and be in concert with concerns related to health and the environment document producers' progress in adopting IPM methods
While these impacts are significant in and of themselves, the activities that make the impacts possible are also worthy of mention. Activities are numerous and include 59 development and outreach projects that either uncovered new information or demonstrated new methods to agricultural producers. Among these activities are the production of newsletters for both participating and non-participating agricultural producers, training of Certified Crop Advisors, the publication of resource material such as fact sheets, manuals, and videotapes, and the writing of more than a hundred articles in newsletters and magazines on the why's and how-to's of IPM.
Even though we cannot see the answers to all of New York's pest problems, we can clearly see some future constraints on agricultural production in the state. The impact of the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996 is just beginning to be felt at the farm gate. While the Act affects only one of the array of IPM options (the chemical pesticide option), it does threaten to seriously disrupt an integrated approach to managing pests.
In the past I have often written about the word "integrated," indicating that there are no "silver bullets" insofar as pests are concerned. The potential loss of a portion of the pest management options agricultural producers have available to them makes it more imperative than ever that New York should continue to have an IPM program. Even as the debate about pesticide restrictions and cancellations heats up, IPM offers a different approach than that taken in many circles. Rather than seeking another pesticide to replace the one in danger, the IPM Program seeks to find alternative ways to manage a pest, ways that may depend on combining a pesticide with other tools.
All one need do is examine many of the results of projects that were funded by the IPM Program this year to see proof once again that agriculture's reliance upon pesticides can be reduced without adversely impacting the quality or yield of New York crops.
I believe the IPM Program clearly sees the trends, the needs, and the opportunities to bring the management of pests into more biological balance than ever before. We are fortunate to have the teamwork that is necessary to help us achieve this goal.
James P. Tette