Saturday, January 28, 2012

Biointensive Integrated Pest Management (Bio-IPM) at Royal Oak Farm – A Review

We are getting close to February and February is the time of the year when I assess our IPM program from the previous season and prepare our IPM program here at Royal Oak Farm Orchard for the coming season.  As I begin to lay out an IPM strategy for the coming season, the first thing I always do is review our entire approach to IPM to make sure we are on target and remain true to our philosophy of IPM.  For my benefit as well as those who read this blog, I thought it might be a good idea to repost that IPM philosophy.  So here goes!

At Royal Oak Farm we use an entirely new approach to managing pests called Biointensive Integrated Pest management (Bio-IPM) and the use of Sustainable Agriculture practices to minimize the insect and disease damage to our fruit. Biointensive IPM utilizes a systems approach to pest management based on an understanding of pest ecology.  It begins with steps to accurately diagnose the nature and source of pest problems, and then relies on a range of preventive tactics and biological controls to keep pest populations within acceptable limits.  Our preventative tactics include a combination of ecological, biological, natural, and cultural controls to keep applications of chemical controls to a minimum.

Often there are enough beneficials to control the pest(s) in the orchard without spraying. On other occasions we can use traps to catch pest species as they enter the orchard, or determine from the traps that there are too few of the pest to cause serious damage to the trees or fruit. In 2007 we made use of a new product called Virosoft that is a 100% ecological solution. Virosoft is a biological, natural baculovirus which specifically and exclusively attacks the target pest. Virosoft is absolutely harmless to all other members of the ecosystem, including humans. Because of the success of this product we have not had to apply any sprays in the month of August when growers would normally apply at least one timed spray. As a last resort, reduced- risk pesticides are used if other tactics have not been adequately effective, and with care to minimize risks.

We have our own IPM specialist to monitor a number of species of insects and mites in our orchard, including beneficial species (predators and parasites of pest species). Each week of the growing season, we also consult with the Wisconsin Eco-Apple Project network of professional growers via weekly conference calls directed by a  professional entomologist.  A weather station in the orchard tracks temperature, rainfall, and humidity 24 hours a day, transmits this data to our weather computer and we then use this information to monitor pest biology and the progress and severity of various diseases that can attack our fruit.

The benefits of implementing biointensive IPM include reduced chemical input costs, reduced on-farm and off-farm environmental impacts, and more effective and sustainable pest management.  An ecology-based IPM has the potential of decreasing inputs of fuel, machinery, and synthetic chemicals - all of which are energy intensive and increasingly costly in terms of financial and environmental impact.  All these efforts make it possible for us to apply chemical controls only a few times each season when they are truly required. And we have made it a policy to always use the most environmentally friendly materials available. The good health of our bees located all around the orchard is a testament to our insect and disease management strategy.

At Royal Oak Farm we are proud of the quality of the fruit we grow, and equally proud that through our monitoring efforts and the use of Biointensive Integrated Pest Management procedures we need apply so few sprays to grow excellent products.
If you would like to read further information on Biointensive Integrated Pest Management (IPM), I would recommend the publication  Biointensive Integrated Pest Management (IPM)  -Fundamentals of Sustainable Agriculture, published by The National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service - ATTRA – which was developed and is managed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT). The project is funded through a cooperative agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture's Rural Business-Cooperative Service. Visit the NCAT website for more information on other sustainable agriculture and energy projects.
Biointensive Integrated Pest Management (IPM)  - Fundamentals of Sustainable Agriculture provides the rationale for biointensive Integrated Pest Management (IPM), outlines the concepts and tools of biointensive IPM, and suggests steps and provides informational resources for implementing IPM. It is targeted to individuals interested in agriculture at all levels.
The electronic version of Biointensive Integrated Pest Management is located at:

HTML Version


At 7:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this, I am unaware of what needs to be done to provide a successful business such as your own. The time and care and measures of what needs to be done is noted. Thanks. I look forward to purchasing the end product, and pray for your continual success.

At 1:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the IPM update. It's incredibly interesting to read how you approach all of the issues you have to deal with during the growing season.
As I look back on your some of your blog posts - I am wondering how your tall spindle system is holding up. I am looking to do something similar on a much smaller scale at my home. In particular - how is your end post system holding up? You have at least a couple years experience with it now and I am wondering if you have any new incites. There seems to have been a lot of system failures out east this past fall with the crazy weather. Any u-pick problems with this set-up? Thanks - Jim

At 1:47 PM, Blogger Orchard Keeper said...

Hi Jim! Sorry for the delay in answering your questions. Seem I missed a few comments with the change over to Bloggers new spam filters. Our tall spindle system is holding up very well. The end post system does well if the post is at least a minimum of 3' in the ground, but 4' is better. We have been adding concrete to the base of the post prior to back fill, usually one bag of Sakrete per post. We have had no failures thus far. This set up actually enhances U-Pick since it gets rid of the old bracing post and wire system which was a danger to our guests.

At 12:24 AM, Blogger Ben Snatigsoan said...

That Bio-IPM of yours seems to be interesting especially to those people who own farms and gardens for their food supply. It is good to use like that of pest control especially that it is safe into our health.

residential pest services austin tx


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