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Biological Agriculture Systems in Cotton (BASIC)


PROBLEM: Kern County accounts for 27% of the state’s cotton pesticide use. No pesticide reduction program for cotton exists in the southern Central Valley. The price of cotton is so low that unless inputs are reduced and/or organic premiums obtained, cotton-growing will stop being economically viable in the region.

SIGNIFICANCE: In California, cotton is the single largest user of EPA category 1 and category 2 pesticides. Participants in the BASIC Project (Biological Agriculture Systems in Cotton) in the northern San Joaquin successfully reduced pesticide usage by 83%. Our organization is uniquely qualified to extend the US EPA BASIC Project to Kern County. There are no local consultants with the experience to teach Kern County cotton growers how to get off of systemic pesticides and transition to ecologically based pest management.

STRATEGY: Recreate regional biological crop systems by establishing beneficial insect reservoirs on six farms, minimum 30 acre blocks. Plant and manage borders and break-strips of unsprayed alfalfa, perennial draught-resistant borders, and annual insectary plants within crop rows. Build from the experience of Everett Dietrick, our senior entomologist, who researched the relationship of alfalfa hay management to biological control in neighboring crops and has experience taking California cotton out of spray in the 1960’s. Recruit local independent pest control advisors to a management team. Compare pesticide use reduction before and after first season of use of biologically intensive strategies.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Cooperative agreement forming with the Sustainable Cotton Project and Rodger and Sandy Sanders as cooperators. A project description, job description for a local coordinator and grower cooperator agreements are drafted, and first year strategy outlined for the Sanders farm.

BASIC Project Phases & Reports

General Reports General Observations Other Reports
June Reports July Reports August Reports
June 6 & 7
June 13–15
June 21 & 22
June 28 & 29
July 5 & 6
July 12 & 13
July 26 & 27
August 2 & 3
August 8 & 9
August 17 & 18
August 28
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