Organic vegetable growers in the Deep South face a constant battle with pests. In Alabama, new information is leading to better crop protection and more profitability, thanks to the work of Ayanava Majumdar, Alabama Extension entomologist and Southern SARE state coordinator. As a SARE state coordinator, Majumdar is tasked with bringing sustainable agriculture information to fellow Extension colleagues and local farmers.
Majumdar works with growers on a range of prevention and control strategies, from scouting to trap cropping to novel techniques like the use of shade cloth. Through research and the dissemination of strategies to improve farmers' use of integrated pest management (IPM), Majumdar has helped growers statewide protect crops worth an estimated $2 million since 2012. "From the producer perspective, there was no knowledge infrastructure before the SARE program was initiated," Majumdar says.
Interested in learning more about shade cloth? In this video, Alabama farmer Will Mastin discusses his experience using shade cloth during the course of his Southern SARE Farmer grant. Also available is the bulletin High Tunnel Pest Exclusion System: A Novel Strategy for Organic Crop Production in the South (PDF), written by Majumdar and Mastin.