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Annual Reports

2001Letter from the Director, Frank Zalom

Economics, Environment,
Efficacy, and UC IPM

Seldom, if ever, have California's farmers faced greater challenges in terms of economics, environmental regulation, and pest control efficacy. Increased production costs and flat to substantially reduced revenues have caused intense scrutiny of every production input's value, including those related to pest control. Growers are increasingly forced to weigh treatment costs against anticipated returns, and this in turn alters "economic thresholds," one of the cornerstones of an IPM system. Environmental and worker safety regulations are increasingly more complex, and pesticides are among the most heavily regulated aspects of farming. The actual or potential loss of many older pesticides has increased interest in the availability and efficacy of alternative chemical and nonchemical options.

Objectivity rather than advocacy is essential when planning for the transition from established pest control paradigms to new pest management systems. Because of its emphasis on science and systems approach, IPM holds ever more promise for assisting farmers and pest managers in solving pest management problems. We at UC IPM remain dedicated to research and extension activities that result in economical, environmentally benign, and effective pest management – promoting facts, not fantasy.

What is UC IPM? It is

  • an award-winning series of colorful and informative IPM publications, used by tens of thousands of farmers and pest managers, that present "how-to" information for pest identification, monitoring, and management;
  • a Web site with databases that are accessed over 1,300 times each day by people seeking support for their agricultural and urban pest management decisions;
  • a modest but critical source of needed research funds for scientists interested in studying pest control without pesticides, understanding the ecology of pests in their environment, and developing practical solutions to pest problems;
  • a group of Cooperative Extension IPM advisors who adapt research to local conditions and who work closely with county Cooperative Extension farm advisors to present current pest management information to pest control advisers and growers; and
  • bilingual pesticide safety education workshops and training materials for pesticide applicators and handlers, farmworkers, and health care professionals that will ultimately reach hundreds of thousands of Californians.

In fact, UC IPM is much more. It is the talented and dedicated people who have labored long and hard since the beginning of the program to promote and extend the exceptional pest management science base developed on the University of California's campuses and in its Cooperative Extension offices. As I step down as UC IPM's Director, I want to thank our staff and those who have participated in the program over the years, both associated with the University and not, for moving the promise of IPM closer to reality. The best of times is still to come.

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Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
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