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The 2005 IPM Innovators Awards

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The 2005 Awardees are:


Agricultural Advisors, a recognized pest management leader in Sacramento Valley orchards, also does national and international work. One of California's first independent crop consultants, Agricultural Advisors was founded in 1968 by George Post, a University of California Extension farm advisor, and fertilizer dealer Robert Hanke. The firm is now headed by George Post's son, John, and agronomist Kent Brocker. Associates include Rick Carothers (agronomy), Russell Maichel (agricultural business), Mike Marshall (fruit science) and research director Tim Ksander (entomology). Agricultural Advisors has helped its clients reduce pesticide use on up to 50,000 acres across the Valley, and some industry specialists say the firm's success stories has influenced farming practices on another 100,000 acres. Some of the IPM techniques popularized by Agricultural Advisors include weekly visits to grower orchards to monitor for pest and beneficial insect levels before making treatment decisions. Scouting techniques include using a keen sense of smell to determine the presence and feeding activity of web-spinning mite pests. The firm recommends treating every other tree row, when appropriate, to decrease chemical use and protect beneficial insects; early adoption and promotion of pheromone (scent) technology to disrupt pest reproduction as an alternative to highly toxic chemicals; and using contract research information to evaluate new chemistries for a reduced-risk control program. Agricultural Advisors' research department conducts contract and in-house research at three field stations and in client orchards. About 100 trials are conducted each year, including studies about the environmental impacts of old and new chemistries. Agricultural Advisors recently began surveying the dormant season spray practices of 17 large growers to evaluate changes and better inform the regulatory process. Agricultural Advisors shares non-confidential information about its use of IPM technology with clients (via brochures and a newsletter) and with other crop protection professionals. Members of the firm are guest lectures at agricultural events and they participate in field days sponsored by major grower organizations and universities. Agricultural Advisors is widely recognized for cutting-edge advisory services, original IPM research and extensive collaborative research and development projects, as well as energetic outreach activities. All of these achievements make Agricultural Advisors a natural choice for an IPM Innovator award.

PHONE: (530) 682-9748 E-MAIL: johnpost@agadvisors.us


The California Rice Commission, formed under the California Food and Agricultural Code, represents all of the state´s rice growers and handlers. In addition to management of rice production, milling, and marketing, the commission is mandated to "carry out the California rice industry´s commitment to responsible stewardship and increasingly efficient cultural practices". The commission has undertaken an impressive range of reduced-risk practices and IPM activities.

Since 2003, the commission has administered the Rice Pesticides Program to minimize potential off-site movement of pesticides into waterways. The commission supports ongoing research on weed resistance and other key issues affecting weed control. For example, the commission has supported post-harvest tillage to encourage decomposition of rice straw and prevent weed and algae problems in the next growing season. Minimizing insecticide use is also very important as the industry moves from highly toxic organophosphate chemicals to pyrethrins.Working closely with vector control districts, the commission developed a brochure to help rice growers improve their mosquito control. IPM practices have reduced insecticide use from 40 percent to 25 percent (or less) of total rice acreage by encouraging natural mosquito predators. The commission is also working with vector control districts to propose a delay in winter flooding, yet meet the habitat needs of migrating waterfowl. Millions of acres of waterfowl habitat have been developed with the commission's assistance. In addition to meetings and workshops on conservation, the commission hosts an annual U.S. EPA Rice Tour and 16 other tours. The industry supports a Rice Field Day that showcases field trials and rice variety research. Yearly publications include six grower letters, five newsletters, and an annual report. Additional outreach activities are publicized on the commission's Web site http://calrice.org/. The commission also has supported an environmental and conservation audit of the California rice industry to critique performance related to the environment, natural resource demands, and conservation stewardship. The California Rice Commission qualifies as an IPM Innovator for its energetic leadership role for the industry at both the state and national levels. DPR recognizes the commission for its achievements in conservation; for collaboration with environmental and regulatory organizations on air and water quality issues; for assistance with mosquito abatement, and for an extensive education and outreach program.

PHONE-EMAIL: 916.929.2264; bhoran@calrice.org


Lee Hudson and his family began planting wine grapes in Napa County in 1981. Today, they grow 180 acres to supply about 28 high-end wineries. Hudson Vineyards uses weather-monitoring technologies to minimize chemical applications in any field situation. The vineyards welcome beneficial organisms to combat vineyard pests: Owl boxes, raptor roosts, and cover crops for beneficial insects are provided. The operation also uses a very carefully planned program of cultural practices to reduce or eliminate chemical control for weeds, as well as fungal and insect pests. Overall, Hudson Vineyards manages its crops with an IPM systems approach that is comprehensive in scope and impressive in attention to detail. The vineyard workforce -- from crews to tractor drivers to foremen -- are trained to make decisions based on scientific principles of IPM. Hudson operates on the premise that if workers understand why they are doing something, they can do a better job to achieve the highest quality with fewer chemicals and least risk. This educational emphasis extends to winery clients and the community. Hudson Vineyards takes part in outreach programs with Napa Sustainable Winegrowing Group, Napa Resource Conservation District, and the Sierra Club, among other organizations. The operation also has supported a wide range of research projects including graduate student projects from Stanford, UC Berkeley, and UC Davis. Research projects have also included international groups in Chile and South Africa, the American Vineyard Foundation, and others. Hudson Vineyards demonstrates the prime characteristics that DPR seeks in an IPM Innovator -- a history of community involvement and leadership, as well as sustainable agricultural practices in a system that reduces pesticide risks to people, air, and water. The business supports education and research, and shares knowledge and experience with the community to demonstrate the effectiveness and economic success of IPM. For these and other reasons, Hudson Vineyards is a most worthy IPM Innovator.

PHONE: (707) 975-6463 E-MAIL: jsk@hudsonvineyards.com


The Integrated Prune Farming Practices program, organized in 1998, is administered by the California Dried Plum Board and supervised by the California Dried Plum Board Research Subcommittee. The program is a partnership involving the board, UC Cooperative Extension, DPR, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, The Nature Conservancy, and pest control advisors and growers. Integrated Prune Farming Practices promotes new and innovative reduced-risk pest monitoring techniques for dried plum production. Alternative practices include replacing dormant season applications of organophosphate insecticides with oil; monitoring pest population levels to better time applications of "soft" insecticides, precise irrigation monitoring to manage run-off, and use of cover crops to increase beneficial insects. The program has produced 12 new pest management protocols and demonstrated their effectiveness with a core group of 33 growers and 15 participating pest control advisors. The goals are to significantly reduce organophosphate use by all prune growers; use monitoring techniques and treatment thresholds for insect pests and diseases; demonstrate how cover crops can reduce pesticide run-off, and improve irrigation management to protect surface and ground water. The program has shown that most dried plum orchards do not need annual dormant season pesticide treatments for scale or peach twig borer control; that most dried plum orchards can control prune aphids with very low rates of insecticides, and that prune rust treatments are not needed as often as previously believed. The program recognizes the importance of fertility and irrigation management as critical components of a good IPM program. Through 2003, Integrated Prune Farming Practices conducted more than 113 educational meetings reaching more than 3,800 interested parties. Some 13 newsletters on the program´s progress were published and distributed to more than 1,100 growers and about 500 related industry members in California. Advisors also wrote newsletters to their county clientele. In 2003, the "Integrated Prune Farming Practices Decision Guide" was first published and distributed at day-long workshop s on reduced-risk farming practices for dried plum production. "Decision Guide" concepts were demonstrated for more than 200 interested growers and pest advisors at six meetings across the state. In 2004, 14 meetings were held. One-on-one consultations are a continual part of the program. For its remarkable vision, leadership and perseverance in publishing the "Decision Guide," and in recognition of extensive efforts to reduce pesticide risks and support sustainable practices, the Integrated Prune Farming Practices deserves recognition as an IPM Innovator.

PRESS CONTACT: Bill Olson, UC Cooperative Extension, Butte County
PHONE: (530) 589-1844 E-MAIL: wholson@ucdavis.edu


Mesa Vineyard Management oversees vineyards in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Monterey counties. Clients range from small vineyards with 20 acres to corporate clients, including wineries. Owner Dana Merrill´s own Pomar Junction Vineyard in San Luis Obispo County has launched several projects for Biologically Integrated Farming Systems, a University of California grants program to help growers enhance environmental quality while maintaining crop yields and profits. The firm also maintains a model employee benefits program that underscores a commitment to social equity. Mesa Vineyard Management emphasizes low-risk pest management with little or no reliance on organophosphates in conjunction with use of "smart technology" equipment that recognizes and sprays only weeds. Mesa also uses cover cropping on hillsides -- with no tillage for up to ten years -- to reduce herbicide use and create habitat for beneficial insects. Weeds between rows are removed mechanically, without use of herbicides. All field employees are trained as scouts. They monitor and record insect pests, diseases, and weed pressure regularly and extensively. Weather station models are used to time fungicide sprays, as opposed to spraying by calendar. Mesa Vineyard Management also releases beneficial insects to provide biological pest control. The company has hosted numerous "tailgate sessions" for other growers and pest advisors, and Mesa staffers became charter members of the Central Coast Vineyard Team upon its formation nearly ten years ago. Mesa Vineyard also encourages clients to provide IPM demonstration sites and host projects. The company includes these projects in its budgets and shows clients how the projects benefited them. Company employees discuss practical application of sustainable practices with a variety of audiences, from legislators to large industry groups. They also work with UC Cooperative Extension on various research projects and have engaged local groups on farm worker safety Issues. Mesa Vineyard Management´s reduced-risk pest management practices have shown outstanding results in the field. The firm has reduced pesticide use and risk within its own projects, and documented that its methods produce less pesticide use and risk than comparable vineyards. For its innovative farming practices and willingness to share useful information with others in the vineyard industry, Mesa Vineyard Management has earned recognition as an IPM Innovator.

PRESS CONTACT: Dana M. Merrill, President, Mesa Vineyard Management, Inc.
PHONE: (805) 391-3747 E-MAIL: Dmerrill@mesavineyard.com


Napa Valley Grapegrowers was founded in 1975 to promote the interests of local, independent vineyard owners. The non-profit organization, which includes a board of directors, advisory board and full-time staff, supports sustainable agriculture and provides information and education for its members and the community. Napa Valley Grapegrowers has become a leader in teaching growers about new methods, responsible practices, and IPM approaches. For example, emphasis is placed on a systems approach to pest management, including biodynamic and organic methods that stress sustainability and biodiversity. Growers are encouraged to use a range of IPM practices, such as monitoring for pests and beneficial organisms; beneficial insect releases; cultural practices for insect, mite, and weed control; and use of reduced-risk pesticides for disease control. Napa Valley Grapegrowers has helped growers become familiar with the "Code of Sustainable Winegrowing Practices Workbook", which contains a comprehensive set of IPM practices. The group also emphasizes the preservation of agriculture through good community relations. Napa Valley Grapegrowers has sponsored many IPM-related educational, training and outreach activities. These include seminars, workshops, and fairs for both grape growers and the public. They also sponsor the annual Organic Winegrowing Short Course -- an extensive education and training forum that emphasizes sustainable agricultural practices. The group produces a quarterly newsletter and maintains an informative Web site, www.napagrowers.org. Among its research activities, the group sponsored the 2003 and 2005 Napa Organic Cabernet Cost Studies with UC Davis. The study establishes production cost estimates and is available on Napa Valley Grapegrowers' Web site. DPR considers Napa Valley Grapegrowers to be a model for promotion of IPM. The group has been highly successful at organizing growers and other organizations, improving cooperation, and sharing information. Notable efforts include helping growers combat two major vineyard pests, the glassy winged sharpshooter and vine mealybug. Napa Valley Grapegrowers deserves recognition for its continuing efforts on behalf of sustainable agriculture and IPM.

PRESS CONTACT: Jennifer Kopp, Executive Director
PHONE: (707 944-8311 E-MAIL: jkopp@napagrowers.org


As the largest county in the San Francisco Bay area, Santa Clara County includes 15 cities and serves 1.7 million residents. Led by Supervisor Liz Kniss, the county board passed an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Ordinance in 2002. It outlined the county's intent to protect the health and safety of county employees, the public, the environment, and water quality, as well as to provide sustainable solutions for pest control on county property. To implement the IPM ordinance, the County Executive's Office retained a highly qualified professional, Naresh Duggal, to serve as a full-time IPM coordinator. County departments were required to designate a departmental IPM coordinator. Duggal, a certified entomologist with 17 years of pest management experience, has spearheaded the counties pilot projects, employee training and organization-wide adoption of IPM. Weed management on county property includes cultural controls (irrigation system maintenance, plant care and a healthy lawn/landscape maintenance program), mechanical/physical controls (hydro mulching and seeding, use of recycled rubber mulch, wood mulch, weed fabrics) and use of reduced-risk pesticides and biopesticides. Ponds are managed with biological controls and aeration to prevent algae growth; water levels are altered to control aquatic weeds. Ground squirrels are trapped, structures vermin-proofed, and bird barriers installed in and around structures. The County manages pests with reduced-risk pesticides and biopesticides, and uses baits and abatement plans for yellow jackets and Argentine ants.Santa Clara County set up the area's first Regional IPM Conference for participating counties and agencies. The county also created and conducted customized training programs and safety education for IPM coordinators and employees involved with pest management. Several field demonstrations on reduced-risk strategies have been conducted. The county offers IPM information on its Web site, www.sccgov.org/portal/site/scc [opens in a new window], publishes IPM manuals, a county employee IPM newsletter, and makes IPM brochures available to the public.Santa Clara County has created a comprehensive IPM program that serves as a model for other local governments.

PRESS CONTACT: Gwendolyn Mitchell/Laurel Anderson, Office of Public Affairs
PHONE: (408) 299-5119 E-MAIL: pub.comm@ceo.sccgov.org


The Nature Conservancy is an international, nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving nature's diversity by protecting natural resources. Founded in 1951, The Nature Conservancy has safeguarded more than 117 million acres of land and 5,000 miles of rivers worldwide. The Conservancy has protected more than one million acres in California. For more than 20 years, the Conservancy has protected and restored land along the Sacramento River between Red Bluff and Colusa. It currently manages approximately 4,000 acres in agricultural production. Using some orchards it owned and managed, the Conservancy created a walnut IPM program 12 years ago. Under a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, half of the designated orchards have been intensively managed with insect growth regulators to benefit wildlife and improve water quality. The other orchards became transitional acreage where lessees gain experience with reduced-risk practices such as pheromones (scents) for pest mating disruption, cover cropping, and vegetation management without use of pre-emergent herbicides. Conservancy orchards have been used as demonstration sites for DPR's Walnut Pest Management Alliance as well as venues for a variety of research. In addition, The Nature Conservancy received a 2001 Great Valley Center grant for public outreach on IPM. The Conservancy has also worked extensively with the California Dried Plum Board, DPR, and UC Cooperative Extension in a partnership focused on promoting reduced-risk strategies in prune production. In 1996, the Conservancy used grants from DPR and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to begin an outreach program for the prune industry. The project evolved into DPR's Prune Pest Management Alliance and ultimately became the multi-stakeholder Integrated Prune Farming Practices project. More than 20 meetings, field days, and seminars were held between 1996 and 2001 on topics such as seasonal monitoring of key pests and beneficial insects, organophosphate alternatives to control prune aphid, and use of cover crops and hedgerows to improve water infiltration. The Nature Conservancy's IPM program is defined by its staff's consistent outreach to walnut and prune growers, as well as management techniques that improve wildlife habitat, biodiversity, and the overall health of the Sacramento River. In the process, the Conservancy has eliminated the use of organophosphate and pyrethroid insecticides, pre-emergent herbicides, and rodenticides on most of its properties. For its vision and dynamic leadership, The Nature Conservancy richly deserves recognition as an IPM Innovator.

PRESS CONTACT: Shari Weaver, Associate Director of Communications, California Program
PHONE: (415) 281-0497 E-MAIL: sweaver@tnc.org


Vetsch Farms of California is a family almond operation that began in 1986 with the purchase of property in Kern County. Vetsch Farms is unusual in that it produces high-quality almonds for European and domestic markets, using environmentally responsible practices. Thomas Vetsch is committed to eliminating all high-risk pesticides from his orchards. No organophosphate pesticides are used. To reduce the need for chemicals, the farm stresses keen observation and an understanding of nature's cycles. Toward that goal, Vetsch emphasizes building soil health, enhancing beneficial habitat, using beneficial organisms and monitoring natural interactions. Seasonal monitoring for pests and beneficial insects is the cornerstone of Vetsch´s IPM program. When pest populations reach established thresholds, orchards are sprayed with reduced-risk pesticides. Predatory mites are also released in areas prone to mite pests. Vetsch Farms has strongly supported UC Cooperative Extension research and DPR's Almond Pest Management Alliance. Thomas Vetsch set aside 159 acres for demonstration of reduced-risk practices and participated in the Alliance for the past six years, providing a valuable demonstration and research project that compared pest management methods. His site gave UC researchers information on San Jose scale damage potential, a method of sampling to predict damage, and a method of managing scale with reduced-risk materials. In addition, Vetsch Farms has hosted numerous meetings so that farmers and pest control advisors can see the results of a reduced-risk approach. Thomas Vetsch has spoken about his environmentally responsible philosophy at meetings and field days, and articles about his operation have appeared in "California Grower," "Pacific Nut Producer," and "Western Grower" magazines. As a recognized leader in Kern County IPM, Thomas Vetsch and Vetsch Farms deserve recognition as IPM Innovators. By meeting consumers at fine food shows and other venues where he promotes almond products, Thomas Vetsch says he has learned to understand consumer concerns about food and pesticides, and he has made a strong, personal commitment to promote IPM.

PRESS CONTACT: Thomas Vetsch
PHONE: (661) 758-7904, ext. 10 E-MAIL: tvetsch@mandelininc.com

For content questions, contact:
Melissa Plemons
1001 I Street, P.O. Box 4015
Sacramento, CA 95812-4015
Phone: (916) 324-3483
E-mail: school-ipm@cdpr.ca.gov