• 13Nov

    Farmscaping: Making Use of Nature’s Pest Management Services – eXtension

    Farmscaping is a whole-farm, ecological approach to increase and manage biodiversity with the goal of increasing the presence of beneficial organisms. Many pest populations can be managed by enhancing the efficacy and local abundance of the existing community of natural enemies through modification of the environment, a concept that has been termed “conservation biological control.”Farmscaping methods include the use of insectary plants, hedgerows, cover crops, and water reservoirs to attract and support populations of beneficial organisms such as insects, spiders, amphibians, reptiles, bats, and birds that parasitize or prey upon insect pests.Insectary plants like mustards interplanted with market crops provide pollen and nectar to attract and maintain beneficial insects in the crop landscape. Ideal farmscape plantings provide food and shelter for beneficial organisms, suppress weeds, and grow in close proximity to the cash crop without competing for space (light, water and nutrients). In some cases, the term “farmscaping” is broadened beyond just augmentation of insectary plants to include trap crops—i.e. host plants that are more attractive to the pest than the cash crop that are planted near the cash crop to “trap” pests, thus reducing pressure and damage to the cash crop.

    Also See the following links for more information:





  • 05Mar

    Register now for online courses being offered by Open Learning and Educational Support through the Horticulture, Turf, and Landscape Department at the University of Guelph.  Summer 2014 semester starts Monday, May 12 (2014) and concludes 12 weeks later on Friday, August 1 (2014). Register by Friday, April 11, 2014 and save money with an Early Bird discount.

    Courses offered this summer are:


        Introduction to Plant Identification


        Introduction to Soils and Plant Growth

        Ornamental Plant Protection 

    These online courses are perfect for adult learners looking for information and credentials.  Course content is practical and applied  – use what you learn!

    Visit www.horticulturecertificates.com for course outlines and to register.

  • 30Nov

    Trap Cropping in Organic Strawberries Webinar

    Join eOrganic for a webinar next week on Trap Cropping in Organic Strawberries to Manage Lygus Bugs in California, by Diego Nieto of the University of California Santa Cruz. The free webinar takes place on Tuesday, December 3 at 2PM Eastern Time (1PM Central, 12PM Mountain, 11AM Pacific Time). Advance registration is required.

    Diego Nieto will discuss the rationale for using alfalfa trap crops in organic strawberries. Points of emphasis will include the efficient and targeted approach to pest management, improved classical biological control and predator dispersion and behavior. Along with research findings from recent studies, this presentation will include grower recommendations for the implementation of trap cropping.

    Diego Nieto is an entomological researcher at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he has worked to address pest issues in commercial agriculture for 12 years. He has researched biological control, farmscaping and integrated pest management in cotton, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and strawberries.

  • 20Jul

    According to a new report from Purdue University, popular fungicides long used to control apple scab have begun losing their effectiveness. An article by Brian Wallheimer reports that a recent study conducted by Purdue researchers interviews Associate Professor of Botany and Plant Pathology Janna Beckerman, a co-author of a research paper resulting from the study. According to the article, Beckerman says that “extensive, long-term use of four popular fungicides has led to resistances in apples in Indiana and Michigan”. According to the paper, lab tests indicate that dodine, kresoxim-methyl, myclobutanil or thiophanate-methyl are less effective than in previous assays. This has led to great concern for the conventional apple industry, since scab is considered a major pest in many apple growing regions. To read the full article and an abstract of the paper, visit: http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/research/2011/110712BeckermanScab.html.

  • 16Apr

    What are the best ways to manage insects, weeds and plant diseases? Three research-based guides, available through Oregon State University Extension and updated every year, can provide you with reliable answers. The manuals provide extensive information on pest biology and chemical and nonchemical control methods and are useful to Pacific Northwest farmers and growers as well as consultants and home gardeners.

    PNW Weed Management Handbook: Starting in 2011, this handbook is updated quarterly, rather than annually, and all information can be found on a new website: http://pnwhandbooks.org/weed/ The manual is a quick reference of weed control practices used in Idaho, Oregon and Washington. Chemical regulation of plant growth is complex, and a large portion of the handbook is devoted to registered uses of herbicides, crop desiccants and plant growth regulators. Most uses of chemical regulators are based on research of the Agricultural Experiment Stations or the OSU Extension Service and neighboring states, where circumstances are similar. The handbook was originally planned as a manual for county Extension specialists. Information pertaining to only a few crops, sites or situations can be found in publications at local county Extension offices and in the OSU Extension Publications and Multimedia Catalog (http://extension.oregonstate.edu/catalog/).

    PNW Insect Management Handbook: The handbook is revised and reissued annually. More than 50 contributors review management practices for crops in the Pacific Northwest. Chemical and nonchemical control recommendations are included. The web version of the manual, http://uspest.org/pnw/insects, includes links to pest photographs, fact sheets and pesticide labels. An annual review is necessary as the legal uses of many pesticides change frequently, according to editor Craig Hollingsworth, a University of Massachusetts researcher who is one of several scientists who keep track of the legalities. “Changes include delisting of crops or sites from the label, new formulations requiring different application rates, restrictions on pre-harvest applications, reapplication intervals or reentry periods or other circumstances,” he said. Many pesticides are restricted for use only by licensed commercial growers. Separate chemical recommendations are listed for commercial and home use.

    PNW Plant Disease Management Handbook: This handbook is a reference for the important plant diseases in the Pacific Northwest, and much of the handbook’s content can be found online at http://plant-disease.ippc.orst.edu/ The handbook is the primary method for OSU Extension plant pathology to deliver information to producers, agricultural consultants, field scouts, Oregon Department of Agriculture personnel, field and nursery people, master gardeners and chemical industry representatives. Organic or conventional growers should find the guide useful. General information on disease biology as well as cultural, biological and chemical control recommendations are summarized for each plant disease. Crop diversification, evolving biological systems, new cultural and biological controls and changing chemical control recommendations require continued enhancement of the handbook. Read more »

  • 20Mar

    By Dennis O’Brien – From the USDA Agricultural Research Service

    U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists trying to help Florida growers find a replacement for methyl bromide are studying an alternative soil treatment that uses molasses as one of its ingredients.

    Researchers with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) are examining whether a cropping system that uses molasses to stimulate microbial activity could be used to replace the popular fumigant. They also are studying recently developed fumigants. The work, presented at the recent Annual International Research Conference on Methyl Bromide Alternatives and Emissions Reductions, supports the USDA priority of promoting international food security. ARS is USDA’s principal intramural scientific research agency. Read more »

  • 08Mar

    The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) is a relatively new pest problem, but can be a serious, season long threat to anyone growing food crops. They really like to eat sweet, thin skinned crops such as heirloom tomatoes, green peppers, berries, corn, soybeans, and lots of different fruit crops. They can be a problem on flowers as well. Most people know them simply as a pest in the home because they like to overwinter in warm places, and they literally do stink (because they release a chemical from scent glands on their thorax). But in many parts of the country their populations have recently exploded and many entomologists expect them to be a serious plant pest this coming growing season.

    History: Native to Western Asia, the BMSB is though to have been introduced into the U.S. in Pennsylvania in the late 1990′s. They have quickly spread from the Mid-Atlantic states to many regions of the country, and because they have no natural enemies, their populations are expected to continue to grow and spread.

    Identification: BMSB is a ‘true bug’, with the scientific name Halyomorpha halys. They range in size from the first instar at 2.4 mm to the fifth instar that is 12 mm in length. Adults are quite large, up to 17 mm (more than half an inch). They are mottled brown on the upper body, and white with gray or black markings. Their eyes are dark reddish brown. They have patches of coppery or bluish-metallic colored depressions on their head, and white stripes on their antennae. Tare the typical Brown Marmorated Stink Bug“shield” shape of other stink bugs, and are almost as wide as they are long. Eggs are round and white and are typically seen in clusters on the underside of leaves.

    Damage: BMSB is a sucking insect that uses its proboscis to pierce the host plant to feed. Feeding results, in part, in the formation of small, necrotic areas just under the skin and sometimes on the outer surface of fruits and leaves of it’s hosts. It can cause characteristic cat-facing injury in fruits such as apples and peaches.

    Control: Entomologists are still exploring potential control mechanisms, and currently there is no consensus on what chemical controls are most effective. The effectiveness of various insecticide classes to control of BMSB is evaluated in Nielsen et al. (2008) and a brief summary of his results is presented below. Though Pyrethrioid insecticides have shown effectiveness in other laboratory tests, they can cause other problems in IPM programs for fruit crops. Organic row crop growers have reported using row covers effectively. Some growers have reported effective use of companion planting using marigolds, garlic and tansy. And others use trap crops such as buckwheat, sunflower, or sorghum.  There is also now a commercial pheromone trap produced by a AgBio (http://www.agbio-inc.com/1/post/2011/02/stink-bug-trap-debut.html) developed in partnership with USDA (Thanks to The Bug Lady for pointing this out). Scouting is extremely important so that the problem can be identified before it gets out of hand. It is likely that control measures similar to those used for other stink bugs and related insects will be adapted to the specific life cycle, behavior patterns, and product sensitivity of BMSB, but agricultural scientists are still in the very early stages of learning about what works and what doesn’t.

    Resources: Michigan State University has an information alert with lots of good information available at http://www.ipmnews.msu.edu/fruit/Fruit/tabid/123/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/3247/Brown-Marmorated-Stink-Bug.aspx. Dr. Tracy Leskey, entomologist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Appalachian Fruit Research Station in Kearneysville is an expert on the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, and she co-chairs a special USDA working group looking for ways to deal with the problems presented by this emerging pest. You can see an excellent video presentation by her at http://freshandlocalcsa.com/videopage.html.

    Reference: Nielsen AL, Shearer PW, Hamilton GC. 2008. Toxicity of insecticides to Halyomorpha halys (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae) using glass-vial bioassays. Journal of Economic Entomology 101: 1439-1442. Excerpt from abstract: Pyrethroid insecticides, especially bifenthrin, caused mortality against H. halys at low doses, with LC50 values of 0.03–0.49 (μg [AI]/cm2)(mg body mass−1). Three nicotinoids were tested against adults with LC50 values ranging between 0.05 and 2.64 (μg [AI]/cm2)(mg body mass−1). Phosmet had LC50 values that were up to 3.6-fold higher than other classes of insecticides tested. Fifth instars of H. halys were evaluated against selected chemicals, and they were generally susceptible at lower rates than the adults. Due to significant differences in weight, males and females were individually weighed, tested, and analyzed separately. Sex-related differences in susceptibility were found in the responses to thiomethoxam with males being less susceptible despite having a smaller body mass. Note: “LC50” refers to the concentration required to kill 50% of insects treated within a given time.

    Here’s one sure fire way to take care of the pest:

  • 16Feb

    This entry has moved, please visit the revised post at: http://beginningfarmers.org/vermicompost-is-far-more-than-a-soil-enhancer/

    Greens grown without/with vermicompost


  • 06Feb

    State wants Michigan farmers to turn up nose to bug (Detroit Free Press)

    EXCERPT: The MDA is putting out the word to growers across the state to watch out for the brown marmorated stink bug. It’s a native of Asia that emits an unpleasant stench when squashed and wreaks havoc on fruits and field crops.

  • 04Feb

    Title: Greenhouse Grower, McEnroe Organic Farm

    Type: Full-Time, Permanent

    Location: Millerton, New York

    Compensation: Salary commensurate with experience. Work commitment is 5 1/2 days per week. On farm housing is provided.

    McEnroe Organic Farm seeks Full-Time, Permanent Greenhouse Grower.  Under the supervision of the Produce Production Manager, the Greenhouse Grower will oversee the daily operations of 11 organic greenhouses. While the main focus is growing tomatoes, the farm also maintains cooler greenhouses for growing radishes, salads and herbs, and a greenhouse for nursery transplants in the spring. Read more »

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