IPM STAR for Agriculture: Performance Assessment, Improvement, Incentives and Recognition for Fruit and Vegetable Producers
We propose to adapt a successful model developed for pesticide-user behavior change in schools to agriculture, where point-based IPM assessments were first developed. In our IPM STAR program for school systems and childcare facilities, we implemented a systematic process using a comprehensive point-based tool and achieved outcomes including compliance with laws, regulations and school policies, improved pest control, elimination of pesticides with chronic and acute hazards, improved pesticide storage, proper disposal of outdated products and successful transition to less hazardous products and practices. In the project proposed here, we will use this model to evaluate ten Wisconsin fruit and vegetable producers on-site for a suite of sustainable agriculture practices and incentives, complete a scored evaluation and pesticide hazard analysis, and provide detailed prioritized recommendations including less toxic products, a comprehensive eco-portfolio and brief eco-profile for outreach purposes for each producer. We will prepare a sustainable funding/expansion plan and measure participant satisfaction and benefits by end-of-project phone interviews. This assessment, improvement, incentive and recognition model is less threatening to many producers than traditional certification approaches. We include detailed recommendations and support not available from certification inspectors who are prohibited from offering advice, provide useful tools for acquiring market and government incentives, and collect and analyze detailed pre- and post- participation practice and product use and selection as an integral part of the process.
Project goals and objectives
Reduction in use of targeted, high hazard pesticides by an average of 30% on 1,000 acres within two years, and replacement with less hazardous products and practices; Discontinuation of routine or calendar-based pesticide applications and improved monitoring, sampling and threshold use; Improved regulatory compliance, PPE use, pesticide storage, application record keeping, proper disposal of unused pesticides; Reduced drift, improved pesticide resistance and environmental emergency management; Improved reduce/reuse/renewables practices, energy and water conservation; Improved farm worker practices and relations; Insurance premium discounts averaging 10% for participating producers; More than one thousand growers, regulators, agricultural professionals and scientists aware of the approach and results; Two professionals identified and training initiated to complete process with additional participants; Funding commitments for 30 additional participants in the two years after the project.
We created the Dane County Apple Grower Network (the fifth apple grower network in the state) to provide a forum for education and discussion of IPM practices. We held multiple meetings in Network members’ orchards to demonstrate application of IPM and offer a hands-on learning experience.
We assisted eight Wisconsin apple growers in applying for and receiving funding from the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to support IPM adoption in their orchards. We created Eco-Portfolios for four Network members to be used as marketing and communications tools; the Eco-Portfolios are six-page documents describing the grower’s heightened conservation practices.
Four members of the Network submitted their records for the 2005-2008 growing seasons. From these records, we were able to determine that once these orchardists began employing IPM practices, they reduced or eliminated their use of highly and moderately toxic pesticides, including those containing carcinogens, endocrine disruptors and cholinesterase inhibitors.