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(BASIC) General Observations June 13–15


D–Vac General Observations June 13–15

Kern County BASIC Pilot Program

General Observations to All Growers


Ecologically Based Pest Management (EBPM) is both possible and sustainable when the whole set of natural enemies are known to be residing within the plantscape (view or picture of the plants growing adjacent to the farm area). The complex sets of biological control organisms work best when they are immediately available as part of the natural enemy complex working in planting system non sprayed insect refuges that are adjacent to the market crops being grown. Alfalfa hay has been shown to be one of many market crops that will tolerate the complex sets of pests and their natural enemies that control most vegetable and field crops. When alfalfa was grown for animal feeds and soil improvement purposes and was not sprayed even with herbicides (interference to natural enemies) it was the support system for biological control for all of agriculture. When DDT resistance caused the failure of the chlorinated hydrocarbons, research designed to reduce pesticide toxins in the production of food and fiber, mandated by a presidential commission, revealed in the 1950s and 1960s that alfalfa provided the best natural enemy complex (NEC) for biological control in California agriculture.

This research pointed out the folly of spraying alfalfa hay with parathion during the invasion of the spotted alfalfa aphid. Since alfalfa has become a market crop, the side effects of spraying alfalfa hay have created a pesticide treadmill in many agricultural areas. More recent research has shown that reduction of pesticides on alfalfa hay rejuvenates and enhances this same NEC and thus nurtures the whole set of biological controls of all pest that attack the cotton. It is the transfer of insects from alfalfa to cotton that takes place at each harvest that is the source of the failure of a sufficiency of biological pest suppression.

The lake bottom fields located towards Maricopa, Reynolds and Sanders, are examples of fields that have a better potential to reduce pesticides with the least economic loss of yield and quality. Minimal use of pesticides in this area makes it an especially important part of this demonstration to reduce the need for pesticides in cotton. This week we wrote about them together as conditions are the same.

This week was the beginning of video camera reports showing various processes and the progress of the EBPM demonstration to reduce the need for pesticides in cotton – the goal being to approach sustainable cotton production using biological controls. Our purchase of a digital camera will also help in the future.

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