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Implementation of Best Management Practices on Tree Fruits in Northern Oregon to Reduce the Reliance on Organophosphate Insecticides and Improve Water Quality

Grant Recipient:

Hood River Grower-Shippers Association

Project Period:

March 2002 - February 2004

Principal Investigator:

John Wells, Brian Nakamura, Hood River Grower-Shipper Association

Project cooperators will work with 300 pear, apple and cherry growers in Hood River county, located in the Mid-Columbian Basin in northern Oregon (11,500 acres). Their goals are to help 30 growers achieve a 60 percent or greater reduction in the use of organophosphate insecticides next to waterways and help at least 100 of the 300 growers implement one or more new pesticide best management practices within “sensitive areas” to avoid contaminating water bodies.

Project goals and objectives
The purpose of the BMP Project was to provide local tree fruit growers with a centralized source of information about best management practices for pesticide use. The three overarching goals of the project were to use outreach and education tools to:
1. Protect and enhance local water resources,
2. Promote knowledge and implementation of best management practices in orchards throughout the valley, and
3. Reduce the overall use of OP pesticides.

Particular focus: reducing the potential spray drift by altering application practices and reducing OP use, especially near open waterways.

Pre- and post-project surveys documented a 12 percent increase in awareness of BMPs (from 88 percent to 100 percent of the 300 growers); an 18 percent increase in orchardists who implemented one or more BMPs as a result of the project (from 77 percent to 95 percent) and a 22 percent increase in orchardists who used the project as a primary source of information about BMPs (from 60 percent up to 82 percent).

Sales records of organophosphate pesticides from local chemical warehouses for the past three years showed conflicting trends: sales of chlorpyrifos (Lorsban) decreased and sales of pheromone based controls increased dramatically. However, sales and use of azinphosmethyl (Guthion) and phosmet (Imidan) also increased.

Water quality monitoring of the Hood River by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, started in 1999, show concentrations which exceeded acute water quality standards for chlorpyrifos were not frequent and decreased from 2000 to 2003 except at Lenz Creek; concentrations of chlorpyrifos exceeding chronic WQS also decreased; concentrations which exceeded the chronic WQS for azinphos-methyl were relatively common and have increased in frequency at some sample site locations; there were very few detections of phosmet. No relationship between rainfall patterns and OP concentrations in water showed up in sampling suggesting run-off may not be a significant factor in stream loading. The researchers suspect that spray drift may be the culprit

Project Links and

The BMP Project web page includes a brief description to the project, links to funding organizations and useful resources for growers related to BMPs for pesticide use, including the BMP Project Handbook.

American Farmland Trust