by Marlene Fritz
"The Conservation Security Program
offers pest management enhancements
paying up to $45 per acre to
geographically eligible growers
who can document their use of specific environmentally
friendly practices for two years or more."
The integrated pest management approach upon which invasive-species control often relies is also a solid choice for day-to-day management of Idaho farms. Unfortunately, comparing the effectiveness and environmental impacts of specific cultural, biological, and chemical practices can be time-consuming and often frustrating for Idaho producers.
Soon, this fact-finding will be a whole lot easier.
Illustration by Noah Kroese
Through a matrix of pest-management information on the multi-agency OnePlan website, farmers will be able to see side-by-side comparisons of the pest-management strategies they’re considering. If they farm in qualifying watersheds, they can even use the matrix to help them convert their best intentions into cash-flow through the two-year-old Conservation Security Program (CSP).
"It’s very cool,” says Wayne Newbill of the Idaho Association of Soil Conservation Districts. Newbill is coordinator of the OnePlan, which integrates local, state, and federal regulations with current best-management practices for agriculture, thereby helping producers develop a single plan for their farms. “The problem is that the matrix is very complex—managing multiple pests in multiple crops and using multiple control strategies,” says Newbill.
“It’s a huge challenge.”
Tool helps compare risks, earn economies for Idaho growers
But it’s a challenge well worth meeting, says UI Extension’s Ronda Hirnyck, matrix project director and CALS pesticide program coordinator. “We want farmers to take an integrated approach to pest control so that their farms will be more sustainable financially and environmentally.”
She described the matrix as a tool producers can use to educate themselves about comparative benefits, comparative risks, and risk-mitigation approaches, as well as to document their pest-management practices for the CSP and their own records.
A voluntary program of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the program offers pest-management enhancements paying up to $45 per acre to geographically eligible growers who can document their use of specific environmentally friendly practices for two or more years. As it expands through Idaho watersheds, it offers financial incentives to producers whose environmental stewardship goes “above and beyond our practice standards,” says Dee Carlson, Boise-based NRCS water quality specialist.
Small grains, potatoes get first matrix treatment; pulse crops follow
Small grains and potatoes are the first two crops to get the full matrix treatment, with pulse crops soon to follow.
Matrix treatment will help prevent
Colorado potato beetle and other
pests from ruining potato crops.
Keith Esplin, who led the Potato Growers of Idaho in developing an IPM standards checklist for their crop, says producing high-quality potatoes depends on farmers being good stewards of the land. “We think that a lot of the practices we’re promoting are sound, but growers need a little incentive to try them.”
Newbill is confident that the matrix will make a difference. “The more awareness, the more knowledge, the better,” he says.
The project is funded by the Western IPM Center. See www.oneplan.org.
Contact Newbill at firstname.lastname@example.org.