A University of California team that developed a successful insect pest management program for almond growers, leading to significant pesticide reduction, will be honored at the Entomological Society of America (ESA) annual meeting, Nov. 16-19 in Reno.

The seven-member Almond Pest Management Alliance Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Team will receive the Entomological Foundation's "2008 Award for Excellence in IPM," on Nov. 16 in the Reno-Sparks Convention Center. The award is sponsored by Syngenta Crop Protection.

The team includes IPM Specialist Frank Zalom, UC Davis professor of entomology and a newly selected ESA Fellow; Carolyn Pickel, UC Cooperative Extension, Sutter-Yuba counties; Walter Bentley, UC Kearney Agricultural Center, Parlier; UC Cooperative Extension farm advisors Mario Viveros, Kern County, Roger Duncan, Stanislaus County, and Joe Connell, Butte County; and scientist Barat Bisrabi, Dow AgroSciences. Both Pickel and Bentley are UC IPM advisors.

The team developed and implemented a program "that has resulted in substantial reductions of organophosphate use," said ESA spokesperson Richard Levine in announcing the award.

The annual award, Levine said, recognizes "the successful efforts of a team approach to IPM by a small collaborative group involving industry and academic scientists of no more than 10 team members."

The Pest Management Alliance (PMA) — a partnership that included the Almond Board of California, UC Cooperative Extension, the UC IPM Program, the Department of Pesticide Regulation, the Almond Hullers and Processors Association, and Community Alliance with Family Farmers — was launched in 1998 while Zalom was director of UC IPM.

PMA's findings appear in the publication, Seasonal Guide to Environmentally Responsible Pest Management Practices for Almonds. Written by Pickel, Bentley, Viveros, Duncan and Connell, the publication offers a combination of biological, cultural and reduced risk alternatives. The guide outlines monitoring techniques and economic thresholds for using reduced-risk pesticides and specifies when to use broad-spectrum insecticides.

The team "developed an excellent research and Extension team to develop and deliver IPM to the almond industry of California," wrote award nominator Peter Goodell, interim director of the UC IPM Program and a longtime UC IPM advisor. For example, PMA research showed that almond growers need not spray for peach twig borer, navel orangeworm and San Jose scale every year.

The Pesticide Use Report, compiled by the Department of Pesticide Regulation, showed a 77 percent reduction in pesticide use during the Almond Pest Management Alliance's active years, Goodell noted.

"Much of this pesticide reduction was in dormant applications of diazinon and chloropyrophos (Lorsban), organophosphate insecticides that have been implicated in pollution of waterways from runoff of treated orchards," Goodell wrote.

The team delivered the program through Extension channels, including classroom sessions, field demonstrations, hands-on training, farmer and pest control advisor schools, and printed and Web-based products.

The Almond Board of California mailed a copy of the guide to every commercial almond grower in the state. In addition, the Blue Diamond Growers, the largest grower cooperative in California, mailed a copy to each of its grower members. (The guide can be downloaded from the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Web page at http://anrcatalog.ucdavis.edu/pdf/21619.pdf.)

The PMA-developed program forms the basis of the Natural Resources Conservation Service program in almonds. In addition, the USDA Farm Service Agency's Environmental Quality Incentives Program offers almond growers $125 per acre if they base their pest management program on the guide.

For more information and links, see http://entomology.ucdavis.edu/news/almondteamesaaward.html.