Pest-Free Vegetable Production
Farmer-Researcher Forum Offers Pest-Free Production Strategies
|Goldenrod, a native perennial plant, sheds pollen that serves as an important food for beetles and predatory insects such as damsel bug, minute pirate bug and big-eyed bugs. Photo by Carol Lemmon|
Knowing that many organic vegetable producers in the Northeast have developed unique strategies to combat pest problems, a scientist with the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station brought together farmers and cutting-edge researchers in a SARE-funded forum on alternatives to insecticides. The series of workshops addressed general pest management principles as well as specific methods to manage insects and weeds. 'We got to know the ins and outs of pests and received production information rather than Basic Farming 101,' says Kathryn Caruso, a Connecticut farmer who attended the workshop. 'It was the best conference I've been to.' In planning the information exchange, Connecticut researchers asked organic farmers what pest control information they could share - as well as what insect problems still plagued them. Scientists and extension educators were invited based on the farmers' responses. Much of the discussion at the forum centered around soil building, plant health and crop diversification as ways to minimize pest pressures, and all of it was captured in the 80-page Alternatives to Insecticides for Managing Vegetable Insects. Sharing information proved meaningful for many attendees. Caruso, who had given up trying to grow sweet corn, met a SARE-funded Massachusetts researcher at the conference and joined her experiment testing the application of vegetable oil to corn silks as a corn earworm control. Last year, she sold 102 dozen ears. For more information, go to www.sare.org/projects/ and search for LNE97-082.