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Insect pest, disease, and weeds are the limiting factors to specialty crop production and to the growth of local food systems. On certain crops, action threshold for pests do not exist due to zero tolerance levels for contamination, for example, in many vegetable production crops. New producers may struggle with the proper ways of identifying and managing pests in a timely manner. Producers are encouraged to use the Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s Plant Diagnostic Services for pest identification needs. Now there is help to producers to assist you in developing an integrated pest management plan (IPM) based on USDA’s PAMS approach that will be specific to your farm. PAMS stands for pest:
Prevention (reduce or delay pest infestation),
Avoidance (reduce pest damage to crops by cultural or mechanical tactics),
Monitoring (conduct weekly surveys and use pheromone traps), and
Suppression (reduce pest populations below economic threshold).
For more information about the PAMS approach, visit http://www.ipmcenters.org/Docs/PAMS.pdf.
This approach is essential to follow for applying to NRCS loan programs/conservation activity plans with emphasis on IPM. Some pest management practices that NRCS and ACES strongly suggests include good monitoring and record-keeping practices, careful timing, calibration and precision of pesticide applications, etc. We have developed an EXCEL SPREADSHEET with IPM practices in drop-down menus as an easy planning tool suitable for your farm; you can download the spreadsheet from the Alabama Vegetable IPM website www.aces.edu/go/87. This spreadsheet also has a NRCS recommended scouting sheet for your use. Specialty Crop Producers should get in touch with any of the Commercial Horticulture Regional Extension Agents who are all well-versed with IPM tactics and PAMS approach. If you intend the learn the use of insect monitoring/pheromone traps, then the Alabama Vegetable IPM program can provide you some supplies to begin your monitoring program and train you in scouting methods. Simply call 251-331-8416 or email email@example.com to get started. Please attend the regional educational events to learn about the three-tiered IPM approaches to suppress insect pests that are suitable for small farms.
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