WASHINGTON -- Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that Penn State University would be one of three recipients of agricultural grants for Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices to reduce the use of potentially harmful pesticides and lower risk to bees all while controlling pests and saving money. Penn State University will be receiving a grant for $159,632.
' Protection of bee populations is an important issue to EPA. Penn State University's project is specifically designed to help protect bees from the harmful effects of pesticides. This is vitally important research because we rely on bees to pollinate our fruit and vegetable crops. Without bees our food supply will be in jeopardy,' said Shawn M. Garvin, Regional Administrator for the Mid-Atlantic Region.
IPM relies on easy-to-implement, environmentally-sensitive practices that prevent pests from becoming a threat. These practices involve monitoring and identifying pests and taking preventive action before pesticides are used. If pesticides are needed, methods such as targeted spraying may be used. These grants will expand public-private stewardship efforts and reduce pesticide risk in agriculture.
The Agricultural IPM Grants are awarded to:
- 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. Researchers will share their findings with mid-Atlantic growers and agricultural professionals.
- 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. Bees are essential for crop production and ensuring a healthy food supply. 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 also develop and distribute outreach materials to help farmers adopt these practices. The project’s goal is to reduce herbicide and fungicide applications by 50 percent while decreasing downy mildew, a plant disease.
Some of the factors that contribute to the decline in bees include: loss of habitat, parasites and disease, genetics, poor nutrition and pesticide exposure. EPA is engaged in national and international efforts to address these concerns. The agency is working with beekeepers, growers, pesticide manufacturers, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and states to apply technologies to reduce pesticide exposure to bees. These efforts will advance best management practices, enhance enforcement and ensure that real-world pollinator risks are accounted for in our pesticide regulatory decisions.
IPM grants will supplement these efforts as well as providing solutions to maximize crop production while minimizing the unintended impacts from pesticides.
For more information on the EPA’s Regional Agricultural IPM Grants: http://www.epa.gov/pestwise/grants/regionalaggrants.html