On Thursday, Jan. 26, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation recognized the city of Palo Alto, Gallo’s Sonoma Vineyards, Marin County and Sunwest Fruit Co. with 2011 IPM (Integrated Pest Management) Innovator Awards for their leadership in reducing pesticide use.
“This year’s honorees are controlling pests on agricultural crops and in parks and other public places in diverse ways that range from global positioning system mapping and iPad applications to falcons and owls,” DPR Chief Deputy Director Chris Reardon said. “Their exemplary leadership underscores their commitment to more environmentally friendly pest control to protect public health and the environment and willingness to share their practices with others.”
Cal/EPA Secretary Matt Rodriquez, who attended the ceremony, said, “These honorees are all true innovators. They have each shown their dedication to finding creative, effective solutions to pest management that not only benefit the environment and public health, but are economically sound.”
Since IPM Innovator awards were initiated in 1994, more than 100 California organizations have been recognized for their efforts to reduce risks associated with pesticide use and for sharing their research and methods with others. Candidates are evaluated in seven categories: innovation, value, effectiveness, supports research, organizational education, outreach and leadership.
One of five departments and boards within the California Environmental Protection Agency, DPR regulates the registration, sale and use of pesticides to protect people and the environment. A brief description of the 2011 IPM Innovators follows:
City of Palo Alto
DPR initially honored Palo Alto with an Innovator Award in 2003 for its citywide adoption of IPM policies and progressive practices. Palo Alto is being recognized with a second award for greatly expanding its reduced-risk pest management practices to protect water quality, minimize pesticide use and apply least-toxic products when pesticides are truly needed.
The many accomplishments of the city’s parks, golf, public works and open space staff include reducing pesticide use by 45 percent from 2005; designating 12 parks and facilities as pesticide free; switching to trapping instead of poison baits for gopher and other rodent control; power-washing trees to remove tussock moth egg sacks; and extensive efforts to protect bee hives by relocating them when necessary and feasible instead of destroying them.
The city uses no spray insecticides on any property - these insecticides are the primary contributor to urban creek toxicity throughout the state. Palo Alto also was the first agency to require EcoWise certification for its structural pest control contractors - a requirement that sets rigorous standards to reduce environmental and human health toxicity.
More information, including annual IPM reports, is available on the city’s website, www.cityofpaloalto.org/saferpestcontrol or by contacting Julie Weiss, environmental specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 650/329-2117.
Gallo’s Sonoma Vineyards
Gallo has a long history of IPM practices in the California winegrape industry, and Gallo’s seven vineyards in Sonoma County exemplify this leadership. Gallo strives to stay on the cutting edge of environmental sustainability practices by minimizing pesticide use and exceeding application requirements to protect worker safety.
Gallo is continuously reassessing its pest management practices to reduce pesticide use, runoff and environmental effects. For example, Gallo has converted to double-row spray rigs to reduce to a single pass of herbicide in the vineyard. The company provides funding and support for pocket gopher studies on its Laguna Ranch.
Other examples include using falcons for starling prevention, and integrated Pierce’s disease management and removal plans. Prevention practices include installation of owl boxes and raptor perches for rodent control, and the release of predacious mites.
Marin County Integrated Pest Management Program
Marin County adopted an IPM policy in 1983, followed in 1998 with an IPM ordinance establishing an IPM Commission and IPM coordinator and a requirement that all county departments comply with IPM standards. This strong commitment has helped reduce pesticide use on Marin County owned, managed or leased property by 90 percent in the last 10 years.
The IPM program uses a wide range of practices to reduce pesticide use,
including: beneficial insects; owl boxes and traps for rodent control; honey to attract skunks to dig up yellow jacket nests; coyote replicas to scare off geese; volunteers to hand weed and mulch for weed control; and replacement of landscape plants that attract pests with drought tolerant, native plants. The program also conducts flame trials for weed management and applies mint oil, clove oil and other least-toxic products when pesticides are needed.
The program maintains a comprehensive website with detailed records of all IPM activities, including both chemical and non-chemical management, and a list of allowed pesticides.
Sunwest Fruit Co.
Sunwest Fruit Co., Fresno County
Sunwest Fruit Co., a privately owned grower/packer/shipper of stone fruit and critrus based in Parlier, uses a variety of innovative IPM practices. The company grew the first citrus and stone fruit certified by Protected Harvest, a nonprofit organization that promotes sustainable agricultural practices, and sold under Zeal, an eco-label targeting socially and environmentally conscious consumers.
Sunwest has eliminated the use of simazine, diuron and other herbicides known to contaminate ground and surface water. It allows native vegetation to grow between trees, which reduces erosion and soil compaction and increases organic matter in the soil. Other practices include modifying tractors and adding enclosed cabs with carbon air filters to reduce applicator exposure and provide a safer, more comfortable work environment.
The company traps red scale insects, tracks their populations with global positioning system mapping and partnered with Agrian, a Fresno-based software firm, to develop an iPad application to capture the data. It uses pheromone disruption for pests in stone fruit using dispensers known as puffers and installed bio-filters in the Tivy Creek watershed to filter runoff and prevent pesticides and other pollutants from entering the creek.
Sunwest and its partner, Fresh Sense, received an Innovator Award in 2008 for building the market for sustainably produced fruit and motivating growers to adopt more environmentally friendly pest management practices. Sunwest is being recognized this time for its individual contributions to reduce pesticide use. More information is available at www.sunwestfruit.com or by contacting Greg Thonesen, ranch manager, at email@example.com or 559/318-0280.
More information about IPM Innovator Awards and previous winners is posted at http://www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/pestmgt/ipminov/innovatr.htm.