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Annual Reports

1995Letter from the Director

September 1995

While the concept of IPM had been embraced by many back in 1980 when the IPM Project was created, it was also threatening to some. I can recall speaking to agricultural groups at the time, telling them that they needed to look to the day when many of the pesticides they were using would no longer be available, and when regulations on using conventional pesticides would be far greater. Those with foresight, especially those already practicing IPM, understood this message. However, some were concerned that IPM advocates were just idealistic environmentalists who wanted to eliminate pesticides and didn't understand the needs and complexities involved in agricultural pest control. Others jokingly referred to IPM as "I Pay More" along with other more colorful terms.

In fact, the past 15 years have been punctuated by the loss of some pesticides and more restrictive use of others. For instance, during the years 1989-1992, 41% of the active ingredients registered federally as pesticides were lost. However, these losses were not due to IPM advocates, but rather to biological factors including pest resistance; to regulations designed to prevent human exposure and to protect the environment; to consumer concerns; and to economic decisions made by pesticide manufacturers.

Fortunately, during this time, the UC IPM Project has been actively seeking solutions to help growers apply reduced-risk pest management practices. It has done this by helping focus the research and extension expertise resident within the University of California on identifying and expanding the research base, and by promoting those practices that prove to be economically, environmentally and socially acceptable. IPM use among California growers is becoming increasingly widespread, particularly in those crops such as almonds and tomatoes where a solid research base has been developed and growers can confidently apply those IPM practices that make sense for them. In fact, a recent USDA Economic Research Service report indicates that California growers lead the nation in adoption of IPM techniques for far more crops than any other state.

Unfortunately, our research base is limited for many crops and for many important problems, and any dream of developing a comprehensive IPM system for a crop must be tempered with the reality of inevitable variance in climate, new pests, new technologies, and economics through time. However, we've made it our business to stay abreast of the challenges and changes in pest management technology. Through our Pest Management Guidelines Database, California growers have access to thousands of proven pest control methods for hundreds of pests on California's major agricultural crops. With the Pest Management Alternatives Database we are developing in cooperation with the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, growers and PCAs will have also have access to listings of additional alternatives which may be shown to be effective in the future.

During 1994-95, as we do every five years, we reevaluated the structure of the UC IPM Project's research program to determine whether it was adequately targeting the needs of our clientele. To do this, we brought in representatives from the public and private sector, growers, PCAs, environmentalists, and consumers to review our accomplishments and their future needs. As described later in this report, most of the feedback was positive although we are making some modifications to assure new technologies and nonagricultural situations are not overlooked. Reports from researchers funded over the previous five years indicate that much has been accomplished by recipients of IPM funds to improve our ability to manage pests in ways that are environmentally, economically, and socially responsible.

IPM, It's Peace of Mind.

Sincerely,

Frank G. Zalom, Director
UC Statewide IPM Project

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