Articles, Blog

Integrated Pest Management in Alabama

Hello, my name is Ayanava Majumdar, and I am the Extension Entomologist and States SARE Coordinator here at Auburn University, Alabama. Remember in Alabama, our pest pressures are incredible. We have insect pests that never sleep here, they’re always active. Our producers go from crop to crop, and these insects continue to feed. So, we have tremendous buildup of insects. And in organic systems there’s really nothing to stop them. In fact, we don’t even have organic insecticides for some of our top insects. It’s incredible because the SARE funding has allowed me to develop a new organic movement in the research, and coordinate the research and educational activities. It’s been incredible because we have learned so much in very little time. SARE State Coordinator Program brings sustainable innovations to America’s farmers and ranchers. In Alabama, Dr. Majumdar is sharing integrated pest management strategies that protect vegetable crops with fewer pesticides, leading to increased productivity and earnings. Doctor A came out to our farm and consulted with us to help us identify a lot of the bugs and insects that we’ve been dealing with. He has been a great resource for us in helping to identify bugs and understand their life cycles, as well as a resource as far as less toxic pesticide treatment, and ways to handle these bugs that are not in many of the publications that you find readily for small farms. Dr. Majumdar’s SARE funded research on Will Mastin’s farm has demonstrated that growing vegetables inside netted structures can keep certain pests out. We almost don’t even have to worry about caterpillars inside of these structures anymore. There used to be a constant scouting routine of trying to find the caterpillars starting to hatch in their first couple of instars. Now we really don’t even have to think about that. So, it saves us labor, it saves us pesticide usage, and we can focus on planting, harvesting, and doing the things that we need to be doing, instead of just trying to babysit and take care of our crops from the bugs. We have seen about 900 to a 1,000 producers, new producers, come to our classes, which we were missing in the beginning without a dedicated program. From the surveys we have done, it appears that by using the IPM recommendation, which is a three-tiered approach to IPM, our producers can save anywhere from 40 to 50 percent of their crop. From the producer perspective, there was no knowledge infrastructure before the SARE program was initiated. So, now we have a SARE infrastructure, a knowledge infrastructure, for these organic producers who never had help before. So, the value, from my side, is really based on grants but on the producers’ side, it’s thousands and perhaps millions of dollars on the statewide basis.

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