The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday announced it is continuing to focus on further development of integrated pest management practices through three new awards in a recurring grant program.
Louisiana State University, the University of Vermont, and Pennsylvania State University IPM projects were selected for the latest round of the program. Two of the proposals include research on minimizing pesticide exposure for bees.
IPM refers to the practice of combining several environmentally sensitive control methods to foster pesticide risk reduction in agriculture. These practices involve monitoring and identifying pests and taking preventive action before pesticides are used.
James Jones, assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, said promoting the IPM grants will positively affect pesticide use.
"Initiatives such as these will encourage others to adopt promising technologies and practices across the nation to reduce pesticide risks while maximizing crop production and protecting public health," Jones noted in an EPA statement.
The nearly half a million in agricultural IPM grants will be awarded to:
• The Louisiana State University project to minimize impacts to bees from insecticides used in mosquito control.
Mosquito control is critical for public health; however, insecticides can be hazardous to bees, EPA said. Practices and guidelines resulting from the project will be distributed to mosquito control districts and beekeepers throughout the U.S.
• The University of Vermont project to reduce pesticide use and improve pest control while increasing crop yields on 75 acres of hops in the Northeast.
The awardees will develop and distribute outreach materials to help farmers adopt new pest control practices. The project's goal is to reduce herbicide and fungicide applications by 50% while decreasing downy mildew.
• The Pennsylvania State University project to protect bees and crops by reducing reliance on neonicotinoid pesticide seed treatments and exploring the benefits of growing crops without them.
IPM in no-till grain fields will be used to control slugs and other pests that damage corn and soybeans, EPA said. Researchers will share their findings with mid-Atlantic growers and agricultural professionals.
Protection of bee populations is among EPA's top priorities, the agency said. According to a May, 2013, joint report from the USDA and the EPA, the U.S. is suffering from a pollinator decline due to loss of habitat, parasites and disease, genetics, poor nutrition and pesticide exposure.
In response, EPA introduced a new pesticide label in August which includes a bee advisory box and icon. The box reminds users to be cautious when using the pesticide where bees are present.
Though not in effect in the U.S., a ban on certain neonicotinoid pesticides was recently implemented in Europe. The EPA has reviewed conclusions of the European Safety Authority's conclusions regarding neonicotinoid studies, noting on Dec. 20 that it found "both (acetamiprid and imidacloprid) pesticides are safe for humans when used according to the EPA-approved label."
For more information on the EPA's Regional Agricultural IPM Grants, click here.