The educational materials listed on this page are about Pest Management.
Producers must control a wide range of insect, weed and disease pests that can disrupt the healthy growth of crops. Given increasing resistance to chemical control methods (including organic pesticides and natural pesticides) farmers are increasingly adopting multifaceted strategies to keep pests at bay. These strategies include the biological controls and cultural controls featured in integrated pest management (IPM) as well as traditional chemical and physical controls. Integrated pest management (IPM) uses a range of ecological strategies to prevent pest damage and resorts to the use of pesticides only when monitoring indicates such action is required to avoid economic loss. Whole farm pest management systems build upon the biological pest control approach of IPM systems by integrating ecological pest management practices into all aspects of crop production. Soil organic matter and nutrient management, tillage, crop rotation and field boundaries, borders and buffers all play an important role in both increasing crop pest resistance and reducing pest pressures. Weed control is a challenge on all types of farm operations. A successful weed management plan will vary depending on the type of operation and whether it is conventional or organic. Helpful practices in an integrated weed management plan may include chemical weed control (conventional and organic herbicides), the use of mulches (living mulch or cover crops, killed mulches, plastic mulch), tillage or cultivation, crop rotation, and more novel techniques such as soil solarization or using geese or goats for weed control.
SARE’s Manage Insects on your Farm addresses the principles of ecological pest management. A Whole Farm Approach to Managing Pests provides tips for designing whole-farm pest management solutions. Managing Cover Crops Profitably, Crop Rotations on Organic Farms and Steel in the Field also provide helpful insights into the roles cover crops, rotations and tillage can play in pest management.
Farmers need to understand disease management on the farm to employ effective plant disease control methods. Becoming familiar with crop diseases means utilizing myriad effective strategies to prevent and control diseases. Various integrated management practices control the spread of disease including biological control, physical control and cultural control. Chemical control may include synthetic fungicides, while organic producers rely on an organic fungicide or other natural fungicide to aid in crop protection. For example, disease management in tomatoes, which are susceptible to many diseases, includes the use of resistant cultivars, sanitation, sound cultural practices and fungicide for tomatoes. While there are many chemicals available for different crops, such as fungicide for grass or soybean fungicides, holistic or integrated approaches to disease management are also important tools for effective plant disease control. Key practices include integrated crop and livestock systems, crop rotation, utilizing disease resistant varieties and cultivars, cultural control, biological control, physical control, chemical control, and prevention.
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Attracting Beneficial Insects to Urban Farms
Always seeking ways to improve the sustainability of their farm, EarthDance Farm in Ferguson, Missouri used a SARE Farmer Rancher grant to incorporate both permaculture and IPM practices.
Physical Weed Control Strategies for Midwest Vegetable Growers
A group of farmers and researchers has been working to generate useful, farm-tested, and detailed observations on the best methods and tools for managing in-row weeds. This image is a Tilmor cultivating tractor with finger-weeders belly mounted.
Tackling Canada Thistle in an Organic Orchard
Chris and Juli McGuire gained control of Canada Thistle in their organic apple orchard with support from a SARE grant.
Growing the Pasture-Grazed Dairy Sector in Wisconsin
Growing the Pasture-Grazed Dairy Sector in Wisconsin is the summary report of a team of researchers, dairy farmers and chefs who conducted a comprehensive investigation of the chemical and physical properties of pasture-based milk when made into cheese, butter or other products. The group, led by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, also explored the production, […]
Managing Insecticides and Cover Crops in Corn
Gabriela Inveninato Carmona is studying insecticide use and cover crops at the University of Nebraska’s Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center.
Using Cover Crops to Reduce Plasticulture
Dana and Karin Jokela are working to reduce their use of plasticulture with cover crops.
The American Kestrel: an IPM Friend for Michigan’s Fruit Growers
Cherry producers across the region are all too familiar with starlings, finches, voles, pocket gophers, and other animals that can wreak havoc on a cherry orchard by feeding on ripening fruit and developing roots or shoots. These little pests can be a big problem for Michigan’s cherry growers, who grow 75 percent of all tart cherries and 20 percent of sweet cherries in […]
Sustainable Pest Management Approaches for Raspberry Growers
Spotted wing Drosophila (SWD) (Drosophila suzukii) is a gnat-sized fly that will damage ripe or ripening fruits such as raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries. Heather Leach, a Michigan State University graduate student in Rufus Isaacs’ Berry Crops Entomology lab says that in 2014, SWD caused estimated economic losses of $159 million in U.S. raspberry production (Burrack […]
South Dakota Rancher Explores Sustainable Livestock Fly Control
Linda Simmons is a cattle rancher in Twin Brooks, South Dakota. Beef and sheep producers in northeastern South Dakota depend largely on native rangeland, and there are several species of flies that can cause serious economic losses there. Several years ago, Simmons experienced a failure with her feed-through insecticide plan. “We had a terrible incident of […]
Reduced Pesticide Fly Control in Feedlots and Native Rangeland to Conserve Dung Beetles and Benefit Beef and Sheep Production
Linda Simmons is a beef and sheep producer in Twin Brooks, South Dakota. Beef and sheep producers in northeastern South Dakota depend largely on native rangeland, and there are several species of flies that can cause serious economic losses, including the horn fly. Simmons is concerned that dependence on pesticide use has resulted in pesticide […]
Promoting Sustainable Biological Control of Soybean Aphid by Examining the Effect of Biodiversity and Releases of Parasitoid Wasps
George Heimpel and his research group at the University of Minnesota have been working on biological control of the soybean aphid since 2001. They have used a number of methods, including releases of specialized aphid parasitoids from Asia, and promoting native biological control through plant diversification strategies. Heimpel applied for an NCR-SARE Research and Education […]
Management of the Spotted Wing Drosophila Using High Tunnels
Scenic Valley Farms is a family owned farm in Rosemount, Minnesota that uses 15 climate controlled high tunnels to produce organically certified tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, blackberries, strawberries, herbs, ginger, turmeric, and garlic. They also design and manage high tunnels, computerized climate control systems, and subterranean solar thermal heating systems. Erik Gundacker helps manage the high […]
Michigan State Graduate Student Explores the Benefits of Adding Cover Crops to Vegetable Production
Cover crops can help slow erosion, improve soil, smother weeds, enhance nutrient and moisture availability, help control many pests, and bring a host of other benefits to farms across the country. Cereal-legume cover crop mixtures are of particular interest to growers because they can effectively suppress weeds, control erosion, and scavenge leachable nitrate while also […]
Integrated Pest Management
While every farming system is unique, the principles of integrated pest management (IPM) apply universally. NCR-SARE funds projects on ecologically-based pest management strategies that farmers throughout the region are using to address pest problems. This investment in pest management strategies helps develop more complex, diverse ecosystems in the region.
Dakota Farmer's Success Catches On
Dan Forgey has always had an abiding respect for the land that he has farmed for more than 40 years, which is why, as manager of the 8,500-acre Cronin Farms in Gettysburg, S.D., he strives to build soil health—and yields—sustainably. First, he shifted the farm to 100 percent no-till in 1993, around the time that […]
Integrated Weed Management - One Year's Seeding
Weed biology and ecology can help every farmer become a better weed manager. This guide is the result of a series of winter meetings attended by Michigan farmers, MSU Extension agents and research scientists. It brings together field-tested experience from successful growers and Extension agents and insights distilled from more than 50 years of weed science research.