Wisconsin Potatoes: The WWF/WPVGA/UW Collaboration to Implement IPM through Public-Private Partnerships
The partners are working to enhance ecosystem health and grower profitability through pesticide risk use reductions and increased adoption of IPM and other wildlife conservation practices. The original effort began in 1995 with the collection of baseline data and the development of an environmental risk indicator index. The index was developed to help track the reduction of toxic substances entering the environment. The partners are now adapting their risk index into an environmental performance-based label standard (eco-label) to take advantage of third-party independent labels and retailers such as The Food Alliance and Whole Foods Markets. They were recently awarded a WWF panda label for their potatoes. The standard evolves annually as new technological advances or research information becomes available. In 2000-2001, AFT began to help project growers develop economic budgets for their pest management practices. The addition of an economic component to the existing risk index marks the first time that economics has been taken into account in an environmental risk indicator model.
Participating growers have reduced pesticide toxicity of 11 targeted compounds by 37 percent from the 1995 base line. Currently, 18 growers representing more than 10,000 acres of potatoes are enrolled for the 2001 growing season. Each grower receives a customized BioIPM management plan, opportunities to share information with other IPM innovators, individual consultations with the UW-IPM team, economic analysis of their IPM practices and input in the on-going discussions of the planned eco-label. The economic analysis provides each grower with a customized spreadsheet that automatically calculates the cost of each pesticide application and the number of toxicity units applied. Cumulative, additive spreadsheets are maintained for each farm and for the entire project, showing the progress farms are making in controlling costs and reducing toxicity units.