Pest Management

The educational materials listed on this page are about Pest Management.

Producers must control a wide range of insect, weed and disease pests that can disrupt the healthy growth of crops. Given increasing resistance to chemical control methods (including organic pesticides and natural pesticides) farmers are increasingly adopting multifaceted strategies to keep pests at bay. These strategies include the biological controls and cultural controls featured in integrated pest management (IPM) as well as traditional chemical and physical controls. Integrated pest management (IPM) uses a range of ecological strategies to prevent pest damage and resorts to the use of pesticides only when monitoring indicates such action is required to avoid economic loss. Whole farm pest management systems build upon the biological pest control approach of IPM systems by integrating ecological pest management practices into all aspects of crop production. Soil organic matter and nutrient management, tillage, crop rotation and field boundaries, borders and buffers all play an important role in both increasing crop pest resistance and reducing pest pressures. Weed control is a challenge on all types of farm operations. A successful weed management plan will vary depending on the type of operation and whether it is conventional or organic. Helpful practices in an integrated weed management plan may include chemical weed control (conventional and organic herbicides), the use of mulches (living mulch or cover crops, killed mulches, plastic mulch), tillage or cultivation, crop rotation, and more novel techniques such as soil solarization or using geese or goats for weed control.

SARE’s Manage Insects on your Farm addresses the principles of ecological pest management. A Whole Farm Approach to Managing Pests provides tips for designing whole-farm pest management solutions. Managing Cover Crops Profitably, Crop Rotations on Organic Farms and Steel in the Field also provide helpful insights into the roles cover crops, rotations and tillage can play in pest management.

Farmers need to understand disease management on the farm to employ effective plant disease control methods. Becoming familiar with crop diseases means utilizing myriad effective strategies to prevent and control diseases. Various integrated management practices control the spread of disease including biological control, physical control and cultural control. Chemical control may include synthetic fungicides, while organic producers rely on an organic fungicide or other natural fungicide to aid in crop protection. For example, disease management in tomatoes, which are susceptible to many diseases, includes the use of resistant cultivars, sanitation, sound cultural practices and fungicide for tomatoes. While there are many chemicals available for different crops, such as fungicide for grass or soybean fungicides, holistic or integrated approaches to disease management are also important tools for effective plant disease control. Key practices include integrated crop and livestock systemscrop rotation, utilizing disease resistant varieties and cultivarscultural controlbiological controlphysical controlchemical control, and prevention.

Cover Crops and Biodegradable Mulches for Weed Control

AUBURN, Alabama – High biomass cover crops are effective in controlling weeds in vegetable production, while contributing to higher produce yields, Auburn University researchers have found. In addition, pre-emergence herbicide applications can be eliminated from weed management programs in the presence of heavy residues from cover crop mixtures. Through a Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and […]

Cover Crops and Soil Solarization Proven Effective in Controlling Soil-borne Diseases

MCMINNVILLE, Tennessee – Some cover crops, coupled with soil solarization, can control soil-borne diseases in nursery field production of woody ornamentals, according to the results of a Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SSARE)-funded Tennessee State University study. Through a $15,000 SSARE On-Farm Research Grant, Fulya Baysal-Gurel of TSU’s Otis L. Floyd Nursery Research Center, […]

North Carolina Researchers Find New Ways to Control Pest Mites in Tomatoes

MILLS RIVER, North Carolina – Predatory mites can control two-spotted spider mites in vegetable crops under the right management plan, according to a North Carolina State University researcher. James Walgenbach studied Phytoseiulus persimilis, a predatory mite, and its ability to control two-spotted spider mites in the tomato fields of North Carolina through a Southern Sustainable […]

Researchers Recommend New Strategies to Suppress Southern Potato Blight

PAINTER, Virginia – Earlier planting dates coupled with disease-tolerant cultivars of potatoes are recommended strategies to suppress southern potato blight, according to Virginia Tech researchers. The fungal disease, caused by the soil born pathogen Sclerotium rolfsii, affects the stems of the plants and produces lesions on the tubers, impacting quality and yields. In a Southern […]

Exploring Alternative Methods for Controlling A Major Pest in Sweet Sorghum

LEXINGTON, Kentucky – University of Kentucky researchers are exploring alternative methods for controlling sugarcane aphid in sweet sorghum, a major crop for farmers in the state. Through a Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SSARE) On-Farm Research Grant, entomologist Nathan Mercer and his colleagues are studying a combination of parasitoids and insecticidal soaps as a […]

Using Row Covers to Protect Squash from Insect Pests

DURANT, Oklahoma — Using row covers on squash protects the vegetable crop from insect pests such as the squash bug, but timing of their removal can impact pollination and subsequent plant yields, according to Oklahoma State University research. In a two-year study, horticulturist Jim Shrefler analyzed pest and pollinator incidences and measured squash yields using […]

Using Mineral Clay to Manage Pests and Increase Fruit Quality and Yield in Blackberries

SEARCY, Arkansas — Primocane blackberries, which can extend the fruiting season by months over traditional plant varieties, are changing the way farmers are growing berries. But they don’t come without their pest and production challenges, which University of Arkansas researchers are trying to solve with a naturally occurring soil mineral. In a Research and Education […]

Look to a Trap Crop-Cover Crop Mix as an IPM Strategy in Vegetable Production

GAINESVILLE, Florida – Vegetable farmers looking to curtail pesticide use may find alternative pest management strategies in the form of a trap crop/cover crop mix. Through a Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SSARE) Graduate Student Grant, University of Florida researchers studied the application of African Marigold (Tagetes erecta) and cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) for Integrated […]

University of Florida Researchers Expanding the Cover Crop Toolbox for Farmers

HAWTHORNE, Florida – Several new cover crop varieties that have the potential to overcome the limitations of their commercial counterparts are being targeted for use in Florida to provide farmers with a more diverse selection of plants that excel in soil health, weed suppression and pest management. A small group of farmers, Extension agents and […]

Georgia Farmer Exploring the Use of Compost Tea to Control Southern Stem Blight

DECATUR, Georgia – When summer temperatures rise and moisture increases in the Southeast, so does Southern stem blight – a hard-to-control fungal disease that can quickly turn your healthy, productive tomatoes, squash or peppers into wilting, decaying plants. Southern stem blight is a nightmare for small-scale vegetable producers, especially those who follow organic practices and […]

Adding Flowering Plants to Strawberry Fields to Enhance Pest Management and Biodiversity

WIMAUMA, Florida — Over the last few years, Florida strawberry growers have been faced with declining market prices, increased global competition, and suspected and documented cases of insecticide resistance. In addition, growing concerns for overall environmental health have increased as we see trends of habitat loss and declining biodiversity, specifically of natural enemies and pollinators. […]

Innovations in Large-Scale Trap Cropping for Reducing Insect Pests

Trap cropping is a unique pest prevention system that uses insect behavior to deter pest feeding. Benefits of trap cropping not only include effective pest management, but trap crops can also increase biodiversity, conserve natural enemies and reduce wind damage to main crops.

Hiding in Plain Sight

MCMINVILLE, Tennessee – Winter cover crops, specifically a ryegrass/crimson clover mix, appear to protect susceptible deciduous trees from the flatheaded appletree borer, while also effectively managing weeds, according to results of a Tennessee State University study. The results could be useful for orchards, nurseries, urban landscapes and agroforestry producers in managing the significant economic pest. […]

Paper or Pesticides? Bagging Peaches Protects from Insects and Diseases, Increases Yields

SENECA, South Carolina – When Clemson fruit specialist Juan Carlos Melgar suggested putting a paper bag over a peach to detract insects and diseases during production, farmers laughed. But when the trials, funded by a Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education grant, showed that the technique protects the fruit from devastating brown rot, marauding insects […]

University of Kentucky Resources for Small Fruit Growers

LEXINGTON, Kentucky – University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension, through a Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SSARE) On-Farm Research Grant, has developed a series of outreach materials for small fruit producers to aid in disease management. “Like many diseases of small fruit, they are best managed using cultural practices, such as sanitation. Thus, we developed […]

Berries Thrive in High Tunnels, But Be Aware of Pests, According to University of Arkansas Study

FAYETTEVILLE, Arkansas – A University of Arkansas study has found that using high tunnels in berry production can increase yields, extend the harvest season, and improve fruit quality compared to field production. However, care must be taken to manage pests. In the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SSARE)-funded project (LS12-250), “Extending the Market Season […]

Cover Crops Acting as Trap Crops Protect Vegetables from Pests

LIVE OAK, Florida – For farmers in central Florida, planting cover crops in strips as a trap crop alongside cash crops is proving to be a highly effective method for attracting beneficial insects and controlling pests. Farmers have been so pleased with the results that they have fully adopted the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategy […]

Cover Crops Reduce Pest Numbers and Improve Cash Crop Yields

GAINESVILLE, Florida – Preliminary research from University of Florida has found that incorporating root-knot nematode-resistant cover crops in a perennial peanut rotation reduces pest numbers in the cash crop and improves yields. The results may be helpful for producers who choose top-yielding, yet susceptible, peanut cultivars, as well as resistant cultivars that historically carry a […]