Pesticide Risk Reduction in Wisconsin Fruit Production
We propose to establish self-sustaining fruit grower networks in in key fruit growing regions of the state to continue the momentum of increasing the number of fruit growers in Wisconsin initiating an IPM program on their farm. Grower networks along with coaches are the key elements that lead to the success of the Wisconsin Eco-Apple Program. In a two year period the growers involved in the Eco-Apple Program increased their IPM adoption by 17% and decreased pesticide risk by 58%. Therefore, we aim to expand these key elements to other fruit producers and other regions of the state by establishing additional grower networks working with IPM coaches. To maintain an influx of new growers adopting IPM into each network we will continue to pursue EQIP monies for orchard producers for implementing IPM. Currently, Wisconsin orchard producers have obtained $100,000 of EQIP funding in 2005 which funded 13 growers to start and IPM scouting program. In 2006 orchards are slated to receive $200,000 for initiating IPM. We aim to continue this progress of EQIP funding for orchard IPM, however with a pending policy change orchard growers may be eliminated from EQIP funding. Therefore, we propose to be proactive by educating both NRCS and other Local Work Group members about the resource concerns posed by conventional orchard management and the benefits of adopting IPM on orchards, for the environment, producers, and the consumers.
Project goals and objectives
At least 30 fruit growers will change their current calendar spray behavior to an IPM based decision-making behavior during the years 2006-2008. Of these 30 growers at least 2/3 will reduce toxicity risk based on their PRAT score by 40% or more and will increase IPM adoption from their baseline year. At least 50% of these growers will be active in area orchard networks where they will work closely with coaches and glean IPM and orchard management information from other network members, UW-extension, and other orchard IPM professionals.
- 38 growers currently participate in the eco-apple networks (Lake Superior –12; Chippewa Valley – 8; SE – 10; NE - 8.) We are informally working with grower networks in Dane Co. (10 growers) and the Upper Midwest Organic Tree Fruit Network (7 core growers). We are working closely with 55 apple growers engaged in farmer networks.
- 31 growers (apple and cherry) have EQIP contracts for IPM on 1750 acres, about 19% of orchard acreage in Wisconsin. In 2007, the EQIP for orchards program shifted from a statewide signup to a county workgroup process, so we are no longer able to track the number of new contracts
- For the 15 growers involved in the networks for 4 years, we document an overall average 32% reduction in PRAT
- All growers show an immediate improvement in their IPM scores. Growers in their first year typically increase their scores by 17% compared to the baseline taken before participating in project field work. Comparing the scores of growers in their first year to those in their fourth year indicates a 35% increase in IPM adoption over the course of their involvement.
- 55 of 86 growers are known to be involved in one of the six grower networks.
AppleTalk traffic continues to increase, especially since it was linked to the conference calls. Since March of 2007, virtually all the growers with internet access have regularly used the blog pages. (Of the 38 growers participating in the networks, 8 do not have internet access.) AppleTalk’s front page typically holds the three most recent posts, and older posts are automatically archived. In 2006, the AppleTalk page was viewed 183 times. This increased to 304 views in 2007. In the first 14 weeks of 2008, the page has been viewed 137 times. Assuming this is an average of 9.8 views / week, we estimate the yearly total to be 509 views, or a 67% increase over 2007. In 2007, 8 growers used the site extensively (>=100 hits), and another 9 made considerable use >=50,