California Honors IPM Innovators With Awards

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) recently gave Gallo’s Sonoma Vineyards and Sunwest Fruit Co. of Fresno County with 2011 IPM (Integrated Pest Management) Innovator Awards for their leadership in reducing pesticide use.

“This year’s honorees are controlling pests on agricultural crops and in parks and other public places in diverse ways that range from global positioning system mapping and iPad applications to falcons and owls,” DPR Chief Deputy Director Chris Reardon said. “Their exemplary leadership underscores their commitment to more environmentally friendly pest control to protect public health and the environment and willingness to share their practices with others.”

The two other winners were the city of Palo Alto and Marin County.

Cal/EPA Secretary Matt Rodriquez, who attended the ceremony, said, “These honorees are all true innovators. They have each shown their dedication to finding creative, effective solutions to pest management that not only benefit the environment and public health, but are economically sound.”

Since IPM Innovator awards were initiated in 1994, more than 100 California organizations have been recognized for their efforts to reduce risks associated with pesticide use and for sharing their research and methods with others. Candidates are evaluated in seven categories: innovation, value, effectiveness, supports research, organizational education, outreach, and leadership.

Gallo’s Sonoma Vineyards
Gallo has a long history of IPM practices in the California winegrape industry, and Gallo’s seven vineyards in Sonoma County exemplify this leadership. Gallo strives to stay on the cutting edge of environmental sustainability practices by minimizing pesticide use and exceeding application requirements to protect worker safety.

Gallo is continuously reassessing its pest management practices to reduce pesticide use, runoff, and environmental effects. For example, Gallo has converted to double-row spray rigs to reduce to a single pass of herbicide in the vineyard. The company provides funding and support for pocket gopher studies on its Laguna Ranch.

Other examples include using falcons for starling prevention, and integrated Pierce’s disease management and removal plans. Prevention practices include installation of owl boxes and raptor perches for rodent control, and the release of predacious mites.

More information is available at www.gallo.com or by contacting Susan Hensley at Susan.Hensley@ejgallo.com or 209-341-5281.

Sunwest Fruit Co.
Sunwest Fruit Co., a privately owned grower/packer/shipper of stone fruit and critrus based in Parlier, uses a variety of innovative IPM practices. The company grew the first citrus and stone fruit certified by Protected Harvest, a nonprofit organization that promotes sustainable agricultural practices, and sold under Zeal, an eco-label targeting socially and environmentally conscious consumers.

Sunwest has eliminated the use of simazine, diuron, and other herbicides known to contaminate ground and surface water. It allows native vegetation to grow between trees, which reduces erosion and soil compaction and increases organic matter in the soil. Other practices include modifying tractors and adding enclosed cabs with carbon air filters to reduce applicator exposure and provide a safer, more comfortable work environment.

The company traps red scale insects, tracks their populations with global positioning system mapping, and partnered with Agrian, a Fresno-based software firm, to develop an iPad application to capture the data. It uses pheromone disruption for pests in stone fruit using dispensers known as puffers and installed bio-filters in the Tivy Creek watershed to filter runoff and prevent pesticides and other pollutants from entering the creek.

Sunwest and its partner, Fresh Sense, received an Innovator Award in 2008 for building the market for sustainably produced fruit and motivating growers to adopt more environmentally friendly pest management practices. Sunwest is being recognized this time for its individual contributions to reduce pesticide use. More information is available at www.sunwestfruit.com or by contacting Greg Thonesen, ranch manager, at gregt@sunwestfruit.com or 559-318-0280.

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