Pest Management Research Grants Awarded 2015

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

There was $1,100,000 in grant funds available for the 2015-2016 Pest Management Research Grant Program. The top funding priority was for projects that explored integrated pest management (IPM) solutions to pesticide-related risks associated with agricultural field fumigants. Projects focused on other high risk pesticides were considered a second tier priority for any remaining funds. DPR reviewed submitted concepts and determined that nine met the basic eligibility and priority requirements defined in the solicitation. Seven of the nine applicants submitted 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 four projects for full funding. All projects are approximately three years long and are expected to begin in July 2015.

Project Summaries

  • Integrating Plant Horticulture and Soilborne Disease Control by Methyl Bromide Alternatives for Strawberries

    While a number of alternatives to methyl bromide for strawberry pre-plant soil fumigation have been investigated, very little work has been done to determine how to integrate them into a viable strawberry production system. Since each fumigant alternative differs from methyl bromide in effectiveness and effects on the soil microbial community, crop management may need to be adapted to each alternative to maintain high yields. This study focuses on integrating strawberry plant management with four methyl bromide alternatives: chloropicrin, anaerobic soil disinfestation, Dominus (a formulation of allyl isothiocyanate [AITC]), and steam. The project will include trials with each alternative to determine the need to modify conventional management practices, such as supplemental cold conditioning, which affects plant vigor; color of plastic mulch, which affects plant bed temperature; and the nitrogen nutrition program.

    Media Contact: Mark Bolda, principal investigator, 831-763-8025, or Pamela Kan-Rice, Assistant Director News & Information Outreach University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, 530-750-1221

  • Integrated Approaches to Replace Methyl Bromide in Strawberry Production: Strategies for Soilborne Disease Management

    With the phase-out of methyl bromide, soilborne diseases have already increased in strawberries. The investigator proposes to select individual control tactics with demonstrated potential and incorporate them into an integrated approach for sustainable crop production. The team proposes to show how the incidence of three diseases, the fertility of soil, and the composition of microbial communities respond to the following four IPM treatments: (1) crop termination treatment using AITC, a biopesticide comprised of synthetic mustard oil; (2) broccoli residue, which has been proven to reduce key soilborne pathogens; (3) the chitin-based soil amendment RootGuard, which is composed of feather and crab shell meal, to promote beneficial microbial populations; and (4) a combination of treatments. In addition to yield and disease incidence, pathogen populations, soil chemistry parameters, fertility, and soil microbial community structure will be quantified. An economic analysis will consider variable and one-time costs of the IPM treatments relative to fumigation.

    Media Contact: Krishna Subbarao, principal investigator, 831-755-2890,

  • Evaluation of Alternatives to Soil Fumigants and Diallyl Disulfide for the Management of White Rot in Allium Crops

    White rot is a devastating disease of garlic and onion in California. Without effective controls, it threatens the sustainability of California's onion and garlic industry. Soil fumigants are no longer available or feasible for onion and garlic production, leaving growers without effective management options for white rot beyond avoiding infested fields and preventing the spread of the disease. Diallyl-disulfide (DADS) induces sclerotia to germinate without a suitable host and can reduce viable sclerotia populations by 90%. Recent research suggests that the combination of DADS and an in-furrow fungicide application can achieve commercially acceptable control of white rot without conventional fumigation. However, DADS is no longer available and an alternative is needed by the industry. Garlic byproducts including juice, oil, and compost are potential alternatives to DADS. The goal of this project is to identify effective alternatives to DADS that can be used with in-furrow applications of fungicides for IPM of white rot.

    Media Contact: Rob Wilson, principal investigator, 530-667-5117,

  • Enhancing Biological Control of Citrus Pests with Improved Ant Control Technologies

    Ants negatively impact biocontrol by protecting honeydew-producing pests, such as scale insects, from parasitoids and predators. Ant control in California tree crop orchards is typically done with chlorpyrifos applications targeting ants on the soil surface, but because of chlorpyrifos's short-lived efficacy and potential impacts to health and environmental quality, an alternative approach is needed. Most liquid ant bait delivery technologies are currently too expensive for field application. Project personnel will develop biodegradable hydrogel bait stations and test their effectiveness when deployed in citrus orchards to manage Argentine ants. If effective and practicable, these bait stations may be able to be adapted to other settings and potentially revolutionize ant management in agriculture. Hydrogel bait stations encapsulate sucrose liquid baits laced with tiny amounts of pesticide, and ants feed from the hydrogel surface. The addition of a pheromone in the bait stations will improve its attractiveness to target ants.

    Media Contact: Dong Hwan Choe, principal investigator, 951-827-5717, or Iqbal Pittalwala, Sr. Public Information Officer, Strategic Communications Office University of California, Riverside, 951-827-6050,

For content questions, contact:
Jordan Weibel
1001 I Street, P.O. Box 4015
Sacramento, CA 95812-4015

John Gerlach
1001 I Street, P.O. Box 4015
Sacramento, CA 95812-4015
Phone: (916) 445-3909