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 systems, crop rotation, utilizing disease resistant varieties and cultivars, cultural control, biological control, physical control, chemical control, and prevention.
Showing 1-20 of 62 results
Using Aerated Compost Tea as a Fertilizer Alternative in Organic Vegetable Production
LEESBURG, Virginia – With the rising costs of fertilizers, farmers are seeking alternative options to supplement soil health for crops. One microgreens farmer in Virginia is testing the validity of aerated compost tea as a viable option for small-scale vegetable growers, especially for those who wish to pursue organic production practices. In a two-year Southern […]
Exploring a Biological Control Method for Organic Rice in Southern Florida
BELLE GLADE, Florida – For nearly a century, farmers in southern Florida have been using parasitic wasps, rather than pesticides, as the go-to pest management method in sugarcane. Now University of Florida researchers are hoping to perfect the use of biologicals in organic rice production. In the Everglades Agricultural Area, confined around Lake Okeechobee, sugarcane […]
Pest Exclusion Systems for Pest Management in Vegetable Production Across the Southeast
In organic vegetable production, and in situations where farmers are seeking to reduce chemical applications, Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies are recommended to exclude pests in both opens fields and in high tunnels. The principles of pest exclusion involve separating the insect pest from the host plant and protecting the crop at a specific growth stage. Careful planning of both materials selected and management design are important to keeping pests out of a cash crop. This bulletin provides data and information from on-farm demonstrations on the use of pest exclusion systems. Pest exclusion systems use shade cloths as a barrier around high tunnels, low tunnels and hoop houses to exclude insect pests.
Woven Shade Cloths Part of IPM Strategy to Exclude Pests from High Tunnels
DOTHAN, Alabama – Vegetable producer Sheena Bain, of Bain Home Gardens, sees the black woven shade cloth permanently installed on her high tunnel as a game changer in controlling a whole host of crop pests. “We’ve had success in managing pests in the high tunnel that we normally would not have, compared to the level […]
Studying the Impact of Conservation Plantings on Insect Pests and Their Predators
BATON ROUGE, Louisiana – Conservation plantings, through various stewardship programs, do well to provide a myriad of benefits. These range from controlling erosion, to improving water quality, to promoting healthy soils. However, the impacts of such strategies on cash crop pests and the natural enemies that target them is less known. Louisiana State University researchers, […]
Mississippi Farmer Optimizing Animal/Crop Production in a Unique Integrated System
KILN, Mississippi – The damage brought about by Hurricane Ida in 2021 was a light bulb moment for Mississippi farmer Stephen Wyatt, who was looking for ways to maximize production of his two high-demand cash crops: strawberries and rabbits. With the storm came massive flooding, disease and predators. In less than one season, most of […]
Sunn Hemp Effective for Weed Control in Fall Crops, Producer Grant Research Finds
CHESTER, South Carolina – Farmers with a certified organic diversified vegetable farm in South Carolina are seeing some success with using sunn hemp as a crimped cover crop to suppress weeds in fall brassica crops. Wild Hope Farm, located in Chester, S.C., received a Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SSARE) Producer Grant to explore […]
Organic Control of White Mold in High Tunnels
The fungus Sclerotinia sclerotiorum infects many of the cool-season crops produced in Kentucky. This SARE-funded video presents information on the high tunnel production system most commonly used in Kentucky; the disease cycle of S. sclerotiorum; and two control tactics compatible with national organic standards, solarization and biofumigation.
Imidacloprid Residue in the Soil Harms Wild Bees
ATHENS, Georgia- New research funded by the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program and conducted at the University of Georgia shows that imidacloprid residue harms wild bees. In a first-of-its-kind study, Christine Fortuin, now a post-doctorate researcher at the University of Georgia, developed a more accurate understanding of the lethal and sublethal effects of […]
Sweetpotato Production for Kentucky
This 16-page guidebook, produced by the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service, covers all aspects of sweetpotato production in Kentucky. Topics include variety selection, production techniques, insect and disease management, harvesting, storage, marketing, and budgets. Full of colorful photos and helpful charts, this publication is designed to be a comprehensive guide for […]
Cucumber Anthracnose in Florida
A fact sheet developed by University of Florida on the symptoms, causal organism, disease cycle and management of cucumber anthracnose. The publication was developed from the results of a SSARE-funded study that addressed plant diseases in organic farming systems by targeting soil health as a fundamental principle in achieving a healthy cucumber crop.
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 […]
More Targeted Use of Horticultural Oils in Peach Trees Better Manages San Jose Scale, UGA Researchers Find
ATHENS, Georgia – Using horticultural oil sprays as an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategy to control San Jose scale in peach trees can be an effective alternative to chemical applications, and University of Georgia researchers have found that the best control comes after trees have been pruned, allowing for lower application rates than previously recommended. […]
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 […]