IPM Voice Newsletter April 2015
Implications of Consolidated IPM Funding Lines in Federal Budget
Federal funding for IPM programs underwent major structural changes in 2014. Instead of itemizing IPM-related program expenses in the NIFA budget, all pest management spending is now lumped into one "Crop Protection/Pest Management" funding line. Up through FY 2013, IPM program funding was divided into five separate programs: Regional Pest Management Centers, Smith Lever Section 3(d): Pest Management, Expert IPM Decision Support System, Regional IPM Competitive Grants and Pest Management Alternatives. NIFA consolidated these categories into one funding line in the FY 2014 budget while funding for IR-4 Minor Crop Pest Management remained a separate category.
In order to disperse these newly consolidated funds, NIFA developed three Crop Protection and Pest Management Program Areas: Regional Coordination, Applied Research and Development, and Extension Implementation. NIFA distributes these funds through competitive grants for these three programs. The new Regional Coordination program area covers the previous Regional IPM Centers and Expert IPM Decision Support areas. The Applied R&D category covers what used to be Pest Management Alternatives and Regional IPM Grants. Extension Implementation has replaced the previous Smith Lever funding line that supported the state-based IPM programs.
IPM program funding has remained relatively constant around $17 million since FY 2011, significantly lower than 2000-2003 funding of approximately $26 million as per the graph below. Additional cuts were incurred as a result of loss of protection of approximately 30% of funds from host-institution overhead expense for dollars formerly in Smith-Level 3(d), Regional IPM Competitive Grants and Expert IPM Decision Support System. These new overhead charges create an effective loss of up to $4 million, bringing the funding available for IPM programs themselves down as low as $13 million, depending on the overhead fees levied by individual host institutions.
To review 2012, 2013 and 2014 NIFA budgets side by side see this report from Cornerstone; to read about the new NIFA program areas see this NIFA briefing. In recent years, additional major funding for IPM programs has been provided by the Specialty Crops Research Initiative including multi-year grants for IPM research. In 2014, funded projects addressed pests including brown marmorated stink bug, rose rosette disease, wood canker diseases and gall-forming bacterial diseases, and crops including hops, strawberries and walnuts.
Correction May 4, 2015: An earlier version of this article stated that Regional IPM Center funds became subject to overhead charges under the consolidated federal budget instead of the Regional IPM Competitive Grants funding line. The Centers have always been subject to overhead in the 406 Integrated funding section, whereas the Regional IPM Competitive Grants funds became newly subject to overhead when this funding was moved to the 406 Integrated section under the consolidation. This version of the article has been corrected.
New York Times Covers Indian Program Promoting IPM
On April 24, the New York Times published an article in the "Fixes" series that explored an Indian governmental and community initiative to support and provide resources to help farmers switch to sustainable agriculture methods including IPM. Small, poor farmers in developing countries often struggle to afford costly inputs of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. In India, the issue of farm financial solvency drew particular attention due to widely reported farmer suicides. A peak in farm suicides in 2004 motivated farmers to seek help from a government rural development initiative to expand a pilot program that showed farmers could increase yields with a minimum of purchased inputs.
The program operates mainly through local self-help groups of farmers with support from the government Rural Development Agency and the nonprofit Centre for Sustainable Agriculture. The self-help groups meet weekly to problem solve and provide access to trainers in IPM and community-managed sustainable agriculture. The author of the article describes a group-led training on pest scouting and identification of beneficial insects and birds. At this training, they also learned how to treat any outbreaks with homemade biopesticides including a mixture of cow urine, dung and the crushed leaves of neem trees which contain azadirachtin.
Farmers fertilize with compost and manure, harvest rainwater and save seeds to reduce costs. There are now more than a million self-help groups in India. Read the entire article here.
Study Finds that Habitats Rich in Species Deter Pesticide Resistance
Scientists at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research in Leipzig completed laboratory trials showing that increased species diversity slows the spread of pesticide resistance. Resistance to pesticides arises due to natural selection as a population of organisms is repeatedly exposed to pesticides with the same mode of action. Some pests including the Colorado potato beetle and corn rootworm have developed resistance to multiple modes of action over time.
In this study, researchers investigated methods to limit pesticide resistance based upon an observed natural phenomenon: insects in woods, fields and water bordering agricultural fields develop pesticide resistance much more slowly than the target pests themselves.
The authors observed the development of pesticide resistance in Culex quinquefasciatus mosquito larvae. Larvae were divided into three populations: one in which the pesticide was applied and no further action was taken; one in which water fleas were introduced for inter-species competition; and one in which scientists removed 10-20% of larvae twice a week to simulate predator pressures. The mosquitoes with no diversity or predator pressure soon developed intense intra-species rivalry; the proportion of the population with the pesticide resistance gene rose from 75 to 95% over the six generation-long trial. The mosquitoes that experienced inter-species pressure showed a slower rate of pesticide resistance development.
The authors speculate that adding diversity into a system increases the kinds of pressure the pest experiences, selecting for a wide variety of traits whereas systems where pests only face pesticide pressure select for pesticide resistance over all other traits.
Study Explores Potential Drawbacks to RNAi Technology Profiled in Last Newsletter
In response to an article we published last month on RNAi modification for pest management, a reader brought a 2013 BioScience article to our attention that explores the possible side effects of this technology on nontarget species. In our article, we profiled a study in which scientists had altered RNA production in chloroplasts within the plant tissue that turned off or silenced key genes to kill or debilitate pest populations that feed on the leaves.
BioScience article authors Lundgren and Duan explore the possible unintended impacts of this technology including "off-target gene silencing, silencing the target gene in nontarget organisms, immune stimulation, and saturation of the RNAi machinery." Off-target gene silencing can occur when RNA binds with unintended genes. While this isn't particularly problematic in pest populations, it has potential to harm nontarget organisms. Resistance may also be a concern; based upon previous studies using animal models, immune systems have potential to develop defense mechanisms against deleterious RNA.
The authors suggest further study of "the persistence of insecticidal small RNAs in the environment, describing crop-based food webs to understand those species that are most exposed, sequencing genomes for species to proactively understand those that may be affected by RNAi, and substantiating that laboratory toxicity testing can accurately predict the field-level effects of this technology."
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Upcoming IPM-Related Meetings and Conferences
May 13-16, 2015.The 20th Penn State Plant Biology Symposium. University Park, PA
May 14-16, 2015. An AFRI NIFA Sponsored Workshop: Enhancing Risk Index Driven Decision Tools for Managing Insect Transmitted Plant Pathogens. Davis, CA
May 16-20, 2015. The Xth International Symposium on Thysanoptera & Tosopoviruses. Pacific Grove, CA
August 9-13, 2015.International Congress on Invertebrate Pathology and Microbial Control and the 48th Annual meeting of the Society for Invertebrate Pathology. Vancouver, Canada
August 24-27, 2015. The XVII International Plant Protection Congress. Berlin, Germany
August 24-27, 2015. The IOBC Working Group Meeting on Integrated Control in Protected Crops, Mediterranean Climate. Rehovot, Israel
October 19-22, 2015. ESBCP 2-15, the Fourth Regional Conference of Applied Biological Control of Pests. Cairo, Egypt.
November 15-18, 2015. Entomology 2015, Synergy in Science: Partnering for Solutions. Minneapolis, MN
IPM Voice is an independent, non-profit organization advocating for integrated pest management (IPM) that is genuinely progressive and seeks continuous improvement of environmental, social and economic conditions through application of accepted scientific principles. IPM Voice was formed in 2010 by more than 35 professionals working to expand the benefits IPM has provided to agriculture and communities for more than 40 years.
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