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Grower Adoption of IPM

Growers talk about why they have adopted IPM, how it has helped them, and what they still need from IPM

photo of the Kirkwyland family
Natalie, Mary, and Jon Kirkwyland pose amid herbs in their greenhouse.

Mary Kirkwyland, Winter Sun Nursery, Cortland, NY

"One of the basic parts of IPM is scouting, and that’s really crucial in a greenhouse operation. We specialize in herbs. We have a lot of cutting material that we have to maintain year-round, so scouting is critical. It’s the cornerstone of IPM.

What do I need from IPM in the future? I could use some guidance on thresholds for thrips and fungus gnats. Of course a single crop may have several thresholds depending on its market destination. Thresholds for field-grown basil sold at a farmer’s market are much higher than thresholds for the potted basil plants that I sell to Wegmans. Potted herbs have to look like someone could just snip a leaf off that night and use it as a garnish. But still, greenhouse thresholds would be a tremendous help.... An effective biological control agent for thrips would be nice, too!"

photo of Emil Ronchi
Emil Ronchi

Emil Ronchi, Cradle Valley Farms, Unadilla, NY

"We grow raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries, in that order. Right from the start we employed IPM practices just because they made sense. To us, the writing is on the wall: chemicals are going to fade away in production agriculture, particularly in the minor crops. Also, we live where we work and so have a strong incentive to be excellent stewards of our environment. The third reason to use IPM is that it forces us to be more aware of our production practices and to act in a proactive instead of a reactive manner--enhancing the likelihood of business success.

There aren’t enough IPM methods for small fruit, though. I think there is a lot of work that could be done in weed control without chemicals, by using IPM procedures. I sense an attitude among growers that if you’ve got one weed per field it’s too many. We need some sense of what is a tolerable level at what point in time. I would also like to see more work on the raspberry side---such as a tarnished plant bug threshold, some work in mites, and more work in the Japanese beetle arena."

photo of Peter TenEyck
Peter TenEyck

Peter TenEyck, Indian Ladder Farms, Altamont, NY

"We raise about 100 acres of apples, pears, blueberries, and raspberries. I have some of Geneva’s disease-resistant apple varieties. I have Liberties plus five others that are only numbered selections.

You can’t grow apples here in the Northeast without the use of pesticides, but my intention is to grow fruit with no pesticide residues on them when I pick them in the fall. I think that IPM is trying to help me do that. In keeping with that agenda, I’m trying to cultivate a client base that will accept a certain amount of imperfection in the fruit.

As for new areas of research, I’m the most excited about the possibility of doing away with miticides. We’re within talking distance of being able to do that. Using ‘beneficials’ looks like a good possibility. It would be nice if we could close the gap there."

photo of John Gill
John Gill, Jr.

John Gill, Jr., Gill Farms Inc., Hurley, NY

"We grow 1,500 acres of sweet corn, 250 of grain corn, and 75 of mixed vegetables. We’ve scouted our corn as far back as 1977 or ‘78. For the past two years we’ve had Jeff Nerp, who has IPM training, do our scouting. Jeff has brought in pheromone traps; he’s taken scouting to another level. With the pheromone traps, I can just drive by, take a quick look, do a moth count, and know whether I should get out and look for insect pests. I also get help from John Mishanec [IPM Extension Educator]. He has such a broad spectrum of information on scouting. Basically, Jeff and John have fine-tuned the IPM process on our farm. I’ve actually cut down the number of sprays. That can be attributed to Jeff getting out there and he and I looking a little closer. It’s worked out quite well. I see a savings.

The one thing I think we need to work on in the industry–and maybe the IPM Program could help with this–is the fact that some weeds like velvetleaf, pigweed, and lambsquarters have developed resistance to the herbicides we’ve been using to treat them. We have no good alternatives for managing these weeds."

photo of Peter Smith
Peter Smith

Peter Smith, grape grower, Lockport, NY

"Back in about 1991 Tim Weigle [the grape IPM Extension educator] came down, and we went walking through my vineyards. He started showing me how to check for berry moth and use thresholds, which at that point I knew nothing about. The methods I was using then were to follow a spray schedule, whether I needed it or not. Now I apply one prebloom and one postbloom spray for powdery mildew and downy mildew. Unless it’s a really wet year, I can get away with just two applications. This year I have one 10-acre block with downy mildew. That’s the only block I sprayed; I didn’t spray the other 115 acres. I haven’t used any insecticides for five years now--that’s $10,000 I haven’t spent! One of the things I’ve been trying to work on is getting natural predators to take care of some of the insect pests.

Where could I use more from IPM? I’ll tell you, one weed that I’m having a very difficult time with is velvetleaf. You can burn it off in July, and by August it’s taller than the grapes. It’s very, very prolific."

Survey provides insights on IPM adoption

More than 1,000 field corn and alfalfa growers recently completed a survey conducted by the New York State Agricultural Statistics Service at the request of the New York State IPM Program. Analysis of the results shows that growers who have participated in New York State IPM educational efforts through Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) are more likely to adopt IPM practices than growers who have not taken advantage of these educational projects. The percentages in the following three statements indicate adoption of many or most of the available IPM practices:

• Survey respondents with no ties to CCE IPM educational programs: 15 percent adoption rate

• Survey respondents who have formal ties to CCE IPM educational programs: 35 percent adoption rate

• Survey respondents who have formal ties to CCE IPM educational programs plus completion of a TAg (Tactical Agriculture) Team educational IPM project: 46 percent adoption rate

TAg Team projects are intensive, one-year courses in IPM conducted on growers’ farms.

This sliding scale of adoption confirms the belief that growers need to gain confidence in IPM before they will adhere to its practices. The survey also shows that this confidence-building process usually takes several years.