OSU seeking new ways to manage pests

Scientists at Ohio State University are in a multi-year research project to find ways to help growers, producers and just about any Ohioan who has a problem with pests find sustainable and ecological ways to manage them.

Because of a renewed three-year, $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, experts from Ohio State, Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio State Integrated Pest Management program are researching sustainable ways to manage pests and help people use methods that minimize environmental, health and economic risks.

From farms, vineyards and orchards to schools, nursing homes and consumers’ homes, lawns or gardens, the IPM program works to find sound, economical ways to help people deal with pests, said Joe Kovach, director of the IPM program and a professor of entomology.

Those pests can include weeds, disease, insects and vertebrates such as deer and rabbits, basically anything that can attack people, their homes or their crops.

“We want to encourage collaboration and innovation to solve the pest management problems Ohioans have,” Kovach said. “Our goal is to improve Ohioans’ knowledge about pests.”

USDA’s NIFA grant allows researchers to focus on the following six areas:

• Agronomic crops: researchers are studying soybeans in southeast Ohio to determine why yields in that area of the state are lower than yields in other parts of the state.

• Consumer/urban: Master Gardener training to help identify biological control agents.

• Specialty crop and urban agriculture: working with vegetable growers to use IPM techniques to reduce reliance on pesticides.

• Conservation partnerships: looking to increase use of IPM techniques by partnering with USDA’s National Resources Conservation Service.

• Pest diagnostics: working to increase remote sensing with video links in the programs’ diagnostic centers to cut down on growers’ travel time.

• Housing IPM: researching bed bugs to determine type and timing of consumer pesticide use.

The goal of the IPM program is to help anyone having a pest management problem, Kovach said.

“Working with OSU faculty, we want to find new and improved ways to help people manage their pests in a more environmentally, sound manner,” he said. “No matter what we do, nature is always going to evolve. There will always be new pests, so we’ll have to adjust our habits, and then nature readjusts, and so we’ll have to continue to readjust.”

Growers and anyone looking to take advantage of the IPM services can find more information about the program at http://ipm.osu.edu/

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