Pest Management Research Grants Awarded 2014

Back to Funded Pest Management Research Grants (2013 - present)

There was $500,000 in grant funds available for the 2014–2015 Pest Management Research Grant Program for projects that explore integrated pest management (IPM) solutions to pesticide-related risks associated with agricultural field fumigants. DPR internally reviewed twelve submitted concepts and determined that seven of the twelve met the basic eligibility and priority requirements defined in the solicitation. Organizations that sponsored these concepts were invited to submit full proposals, which were reviewed and scored by both DPR and the Pest Management Advisory Committee (PMAC) in six areas: project overview, adoptability, current pest management practices, scope of work, principal investigator(s) and team, and budget. After considering recommendations from the PMAC and DPR staff, the Director selected three projects for full funding. All projects are approximately three years long and are expected to begin in July 2014.

Project Summaries

  • Optimizing Solarization-Based Technologies as Sustainable Alternatives to Soil Fumigation Organization: University of California

    The project’s research team has demonstrated that solarization, with and without organic matter (OM) augmentation, can be an effective and sustainable alternative to soil fumigation with synthetic toxicants under suitable conditions. However, additional research is needed to address knowledge gaps and support development of comprehensive and reliable decision-making tools. This project proposes making advances in three areas to facilitate greater use of solarization by growers: 1) pest management practices that combine solarization and soil OM amendments; 2) ecological associations and biochemical activity of soil microbes in response to the solarization process, and 3) predictive modeling to enable informed pest management decision-making regarding solarization and soil and plant health.

    Media Contact: James Stapleton, principal investigator, 559-646-6500, jjstapleton@ucanr.edu

  • Development of a Mobile Steam Applicator to Replace Fumigants for Strawberry

    Strawberry research indicates that soil disinfestation with steam is an acceptable alternative to soil fumigation. A two-year evaluation of a 2011 prototype field steam applicator found strawberry yields and pest control similar in steamed and fumigated soils. The prototype steamer required water softening–a costly shortcoming. Also, it was designed for research, not practicality, and required about 20 hours to treat an acre. Greater steam output and speed and the ability to use hard or soft water is needed for commercial-scale steam application. This project proposes to modify steam generator technology from Precision Combustion (PCI) for use as a field steam applicator. It is a compact technology that does not require softened water. PCI's steam generator, used to extract heavy crude oil, requires modification for agricultural use. Funds are requested to build a compact commercial-scale steam generator for soil disinfestation in California strawberry fields.

    Media Contact: Steven Fennimore, principal investigator, 831-755-2896, safennimore@ucdavis.edu

  • Improving Efficacy of Biologically Mediated Soilborne Disease Management in Strawberry by the Use of Reduced Rate Fumigations

    Soilborne diseases are a significant yield-limiting factor in strawberry production systems and are the primary reason that strawberry growers annually fumigate their soil. Increasingly stringent regulatory restrictions on fumigant use have created an urgent need to develop alternatives that will reduce dependence on chemical fumigation in strawberry production. Research on non-fumigant alternatives has not been completely successful in finding methods to control all major soilborne diseases in California strawberry. A strategy that combines the use of fumigants at reduced rates with biologically active soil treatments in sequential combination may produce options that are more effective and significantly reduce the amount of fumigant used to manage soilborne diseases. This project will examine effects of integrating fumigation and biological soil treatments such as anaerobic soil disinfestation (ASD) and mustard seed meal (MSM) on soilborne disease management for strawberry production in California.

    Media Contact: Dan Legard, principal investigator, 831-724-1301, dlegard@calstrawberry.org

  • Determining the Impacts of Plant-Parasitic Nematodes and Soil Fumigation on Pistachio Growth

    Pre-plant fumigation of sandy soils to prevent nematode infestations of pistachio trees may or may not be necessary. This study would compare soil nematode population densities, tree growth rates, phenology patterns, and canopy size in plots fumigated and not fumigated with Telone II. Additionally, it would compare differences in nematode resistance in six different rootstock lines. If growth is similar among fumigated and non-fumigated plots, then growers could potentially avoid using fumigants and therefore lower costs and environmental, human health, and regulatory risks associated with fumigation. If differences between fumigated and non-fumigated plots are observed, further research on proper fumigant use or fumigant alternatives would be needed.

    Media Contact: David Doll, principal investigator, 209-385-7403, dadoll@ucanr.edu

  • Managing Nematode Parasitism and Prunus Replant Disease with Spot Fumigation and Rootstocks

    Orchard reestablishment is a critical period in an almond orchard operation’s long-term sustainability. Properly preparing the soil for new orchard reestablishment must take into account the presence of plant parasitic nematodes and Prunus replant disease (PRD). Soil fumigation has been traditionally used to manage these problems, but the use of fumigants is under scrutiny. Spot fumigation has been shown to be effective in managing PRD and reducing the amount of fumigant applied, but it is unknown whether it is sufficiently effective in nematode-infested soils. Rootstock selection may provide the potential to manage both nematode parasitism and PRD and could reduce the need to use fumigants. This project would compare soil nematode concentrations, tree growth, and yield between plots that have been row-strip or spot fumigated with Telone II C35 and a non-fumigated control. Trials would also compare four rootstocks that would be planted in fumigated and non-fumigated soils.

    Media Contact: David Doll, principal investigator, 209-385-7403, dadoll@ucanr.edu

For further information regarding the Pest Management Research Grant Program contact Doug Downie at Douglas.Downie@cdpr.ca.gov or (916) 445-0430, or Mark Robertson at Mark.Robertson@cdpr.ca.gov or (916) 324-2451.