Wisconsin Eco-Potatoes: The Collaboration to Implement IPM Through Public-Private Partnerships
The partners are cleaning up the environment and generating profits for potato growers by reducing pesticide use and increasing the adoption of Integrated Pest Management and other wildlife conservation practices. They started in 1996 by collecting baseline data and developing an environmental risk indicator index. The index helps keep track of toxic substances entering the environment. It is now used as part of an environmental performance-based label standard (the Protected Harvest eco-label) and the potatoes are marketed as Healthy Grown potatoes. The standard evolves annually as new technological advances or research information becomes available.
In 2000-2001, AFT began funding the project and 1) helped the growers develop economic budgets for their pest management practices and 2) provided one-on-one assistance for farmers to help increase implementation rates. Adding farm economics to the existing risk index marked the first time that economics have been taken into account in an environmental risk indicator model. In 2001, the growers were awarded a WWF panda label for their potatoes.
Project goals and objectives
1) Develop economic budgets for pest management practices.
2) provide one-on-one assistance for farmers to help increase implementation rates.
Twenty growers are now enrolled in the project. Seventeen of the 20 growers are marketing their potatoes with the Protected Harvest eco-label under the "Healthy Grown" brand. In total, over 9,100 acres of fresh market potatoes (20 percent of the total fresh market acreage in WI) was enrolled. Of this, 4,200 acres (1.7 million pounds) met the standard and were eligible to sell under the eco-label. Between 1998 and 2001, growers reduced their toxicity units by 46 percent. The Wisconsin growers are being watched closely by the potato industry. If they succeed, chances are good that the entire industry will follow their example.
Update: October 2003: Eighteen growers on 10,000 acres are now marketing Healthy Grown potatoes. On June 13, 2003, the WWF/WPVGA/UW collaboration was presented with the Secretary of Agriculture’s Honor Award for “maintaining and enhancing the nation’s natural resources and environment” from USDA.
(includes project history, growers, grant proposal, targets and milestones, progress reports, and information on IPM labeling)