The educational materials listed on this page are about Pest Management.
Producers must control a wide range of insect, weed and disease pests that can disrupt the healthy growth of crops. Given increasing resistance to chemical control methods (including organic pesticides and natural pesticides) farmers are increasingly adopting multifaceted strategies to keep pests at bay. These strategies include the biological controls and cultural controls featured in integrated pest management (IPM) as well as traditional chemical and physical controls. Integrated pest management (IPM) uses a range of ecological strategies to prevent pest damage and resorts to the use of pesticides only when monitoring indicates such action is required to avoid economic loss. Whole farm pest management systems build upon the biological pest control approach of IPM systems by integrating ecological pest management practices into all aspects of crop production. Soil organic matter and nutrient management, tillage, crop rotation and field boundaries, borders and buffers all play an important role in both increasing crop pest resistance and reducing pest pressures. Weed control is a challenge on all types of farm operations. A successful weed management plan will vary depending on the type of operation and whether it is conventional or organic. Helpful practices in an integrated weed management plan may include chemical weed control (conventional and organic herbicides), the use of mulches (living mulch or cover crops, killed mulches, plastic mulch), tillage or cultivation, crop rotation, and more novel techniques such as soil solarization or using geese or goats for weed control.
SARE’s Manage Insects on your Farm addresses the principles of ecological pest management. A Whole Farm Approach to Managing Pests provides tips for designing whole-farm pest management solutions. Managing Cover Crops Profitably, Crop Rotations on Organic Farms and Steel in the Field also provide helpful insights into the roles cover crops, rotations and tillage can play in pest management.
Farmers need to understand disease management on the farm to employ effective plant disease control methods. Becoming familiar with crop diseases means utilizing myriad effective strategies to prevent and control diseases. Various integrated management practices control the spread of disease including biological control, physical control and cultural control. Chemical control may include synthetic fungicides, while organic producers rely on an organic fungicide or other natural fungicide to aid in crop protection. For example, disease management in tomatoes, which are susceptible to many diseases, includes the use of resistant cultivars, sanitation, sound cultural practices and fungicide for tomatoes. While there are many chemicals available for different crops, such as fungicide for grass or soybean fungicides, holistic or integrated approaches to disease management are also important tools for effective plant disease control. Key practices include integrated crop and livestock systems, crop rotation, utilizing disease resistant varieties and cultivars, cultural control, biological control, physical control, chemical control, and prevention.
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New SARE Video: Ecological Weed Management at the Martens Farm
Farmers nationwide are tackling the challenge of using ecological principles to manage weeds using fewer herbicides. Understanding the biology of weeds is key to helping producers adopt innovative strategies that achieve strong yields while adapting to changing consumer preferences. Three new videos from SARE illustrate how Klaas and Mary-Howell Martens manage weeds without chemicals on […]
Choosing the Right Tools For Your Farm
A manual created by Ain Chike and Georgia Organics outlines hand tools, small engines, their utility descriptions and where to source them for growers in the Southeast. It allows readers to understand each tool and their practical uses. This short 4-page PDF acts as a overview for important tools to ensure efficient and productive yields […]
Tarping in the Northeast: A Guide for Small Farms
Reusable tarps, including black plastic (silage tarps), clear plastic and landscape fabric, are multi-functional, accessible tools that are increasingly popular on small farms. The use of opaque materials that block light is frequently called “occultation,” while the use of clear tarps is called “solarization.” The use of the word "tarping” is a general term to […]
New SARE Bulletin: What is Sustainable Agriculture?
SARE’s newly revised What is Sustainable Agriculture? publication provides a primer to practices that can help farmers and ranchers improve the sustainability of any complex, integrated production and marketing system.
New SARE Video: Ecological Weed Management at Terra Preta Farm
Understanding the biology of weeds is key to managing these troublesome pests using ecological principles. Cultural practices such as crop rotations and cover crops paired with smart cultivation have helped many farmers successfully manage weeds while reducing or eliminating herbicide use. In three new videos from SARE, Shakera and Juan Raygoza share their experience controlling […]
New Book: Farming With Soil Life: A Handbook for Supporting Soil Invertebrates and Soil Health on Farms
Smart farmers know that healthy soil hosts a flourishing and diverse ecosystem of bacteria, fungi and invertebrates. But the complex relationships between soil life, productivity and resilience are not well understood. Now available from the Xerces Society and SARE, Farming with Soil Life: A Handbook for Supporting Soil Invertebrates and Soil Health on Farms is […]
What is Sustainable Agriculture?
This award-winning report provides a sampler of best practices in sustainable agriculture—from marketing and community vitality to cover crops and grazing—as well as eight profiles of producers, educators and researchers who have successfully implemented them.
Leaders in Sustainable Agriculture Featured on America's Heartland
SARE partnered with PBS KVIE to produce an episode of RFD-TV's America's Heartland that features four farmers describing their commitment to sustainability, how they plan to meet farming challenges of today and tomorrow, and how SARE has impacted their farming and ranching practices. The full 24-minute video is available, as is each segment featuring the […]
New SARE Video: Managing Weeds in an Organic Almond Orchard
Many organic and conventional farmers are seeking ways to eliminate or reduce their use of synthetic herbicides. Understanding weeds is the first step towards managing them efficiently and ecologically. Now, two new videos in SARE’s Manage Weeds on Your Farm series explore organic almond grove weed control on Burroughs Family Farm’s 1,200-acre orchard in Denair, […]
New SARE Video: Managing Weeds in Organic Row Crops
Farmers have long relied on herbicides to control weeds in row cropping systems. But as consumer preferences change, many farmers are seeking to eliminate or reduce their use of synthetic herbicides where possible. Managing weeds without herbicides can be daunting, and it requires producers to understand the biology and behavior of problem weeds in order […]
Manage Weeds on Your Farm Video Series
In this series, experienced farmers from around the country talk about how they have found success controlling weeds by following ecological principles, and without resorting to the use of herbicides. To do so, they rely on a range of cultural and mechanical practices, including diverse crop rotations, well-timed cultivation and targeting weeds when they're at […]
Transitioning to Organic Production
Transitioning to Organic Production lays out many promising conversion strategies, covering typical organic farming production practices, innovative marketing ideas and federal standards for certified organic crop production.
Farmer-Focused Innovations Funded by SARE
“Institutionalized food is the forgotten part of the food revolution,” says Ann Swanson, talking about the lack of fresh produce available from local institutions in her community of Champaign–Urbana, IL. Inspired, Swanson used a SARE Farmer/Rancher grant to create new opportunities for local farmers, launch a series of educational classes and expand institutional capacity to […]
Manage Weeds on Your Farm: An Ecological Approach
SARE’s newest book, "Manage Weeds on Your Farm: A Guide to Ecological Strategies," examines the biology and behavior of common weeds and provides an integrated set of non-chemical control strategies that exploits their weaknesses.
2021–2022 Report from the Field
Report from the Field features 12 stories from around the country of recent SARE grantees who are finding new ways to improve the sustainability of U.S. agriculture. The report also summarizes our total investment in research and education projects since 1988.
Soil Health Principles and Practices Videos
Experienced farmers and Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) provide information on managing and improving soil health. Farmers discuss practices such as cover cropping, and using mulch and compost to improve soil health.
Manage Weeds On Your Farm
Manage Weeds on Your Farm is a definitive guide to understanding agricultural weeds and how to manage them efficiently, effectively and ecologically—for organic and conventional farmers alike.
A Sustainable Approach to Controlling Honey Bee Diseases and Varroa Mites
This fact sheet describes efforts to breed honey bees, Apis mellifera, resistant to diseases and parasitic mites to reduce the amount of antibiotics and pesticides used in bee colonies and to ensure that our breeding methods and stock are accessible to beekeepers everywhere.
New SARE Bulletin Addresses Ecological Approach to Managing Pests
A flock of sheep is vital to the success of one particular vineyard in Winters, California. While many operations struggle to manage weeds, this vineyard used a SARE-funded grant to test grazing sheep as a pest management practice, and they are seeing many whole-farm benefits. The sheep were trained to avoid the grape crop’s leaves […]
A Whole Farm Approach to Managing Pests
This 16-page bulletin helps producers—and the educators who work with them—use ecological principles across the entire farm to control pests.