Funded BIFS Projects


Projects

Apple Citrus
Dairy
Grape (Fresh)
Lettuce
Prune (Dried Plum)
Rice
Strawberry
Tomato & Cotton
Walnut
Winegrape
 


Apple


Integrated Pome Fruit Production in Contra Costa County
(Jan. 2000 - March 2003)

Principal Investigator: Janet Caprile, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor, Contra Costa County

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The Apple BIFS project focused on reducing the use of controversial, broad-spectrum insecticides in pome fruits (apples and pears). Rapid urbanization around apple orchards in Contra Costa County has increased concerns about pesticide use in this region. A key component of the project was the use of mating disruption to reduce the numbers of codling moth, the most critical pest in apple and pear production. During this three-year project, a team of growers, pest control advisors and UC researchers used supplemental codling moth sprays in addition to mating disruption to reduce codling moth populations to very low levels. The project made substantial progress in identifying and demonstrating the products and procedures to use in orchard monitoring that are necessary for the successful implementation of pheromone mating disruption to control codling moth in pome fruit. BIFS fields received 33 percent less organophosphate insecticides than the conventional fields with similar control levels.

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Citrus


Citrus Biologically Integrated Farming Systems (Oct. 1998 - June 2002)
Principal Investigator: Thomas Chao, UC Cooperative Extension horticulturalist, Dept. of Botany & Plant Sciences, UC Riversides
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The Citrus BIFS project focused on reducing the use of the herbicide simazine (a known groundwater contaminant), reducing organophosphate insecticide and fertilizer use, improving irrigation efficiency and increasing the use of cover crops. The use of pre-emergence herbicides such as simazine (Princep), diuron (Karmex) and oryzalin (Surflan) can be reduced by relying on more frequent post-emergence herbicide applications, by narrowing the area in the "middles" that the herbicide is applied to, and by growing a cover crop. It is a common belief among citrus growers that cover crops will increase the risk of frost damage in citrus orchards. However, two years of data from Citrus BIFS show that an appropriately managed cover crop does not increase frost damage. Cover crops are beneficial to citrus orchards in providing habitat for beneficial insects, reducing soil erosion, and reducing off-site movement of agricultural chemicals. The project also showed that monitoring with moisture sensors improves irrigation efficiency, reduces costs and the likelihood of run-off..

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Dairy


Integrating Forage Production with Dairy Manure Management in the San Joaquin Valley (July 1999 - March 2003)
Principal Investigator: Stuart Pettygrove, UC Cooperative Extension soils specialist, Dept. of Land, Air and Water Resources, UC Davis

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The Dairy BIFS project worked with 11 dairy and forage crop farmers in the San Joaquin Valley in an effort to develop and demonstrate improved liquid manure management practices. Project managers developed ways to measure nutrients in lagoon water, enabling them to reduce or eliminate applications of synthetic fertilizers to their forage crops. Average use of fertilizer by BIFS growers on their forage crop fields went from 149, 71, 45 lbs/acre of N, P2O5, and K2O, respectively, before the project to 20, 0 and 0 lbs/acre after three years of the project. The results have been cost savings to the growers of an average $57 per acre and as high as $116 per acre, and reductions in groundwater contamination from both chemical fertilizer and dairy manure water. Growers also maintained their forage crop yields with this method. A crucial accomplishment of the project was the development of easy-to-use flow meters to measure the amounts of liquid dairy manure to be used as fertilizer on the crop and nitrogen "quick tests," which determine the exact amounts of nutrients in the liquid manure. This will become increasingly important, as future environmental regulations for concentrated farm animal operations will require accurate record-keeping and finely controlled management practices, as well as the development of a comprehensive nutrient management plan.

For more information, see:
Dairy BIFS Project Final Report
Dairy BIFS project: http://www.dairybifs.uckac.edu
Lagoon Nutrient Management : http://groups.ucanr.org/LNM/
California Dairy Quality Assurance Environmental Stewardship module: http://cdqa.org/environmental.asp

Dairy/Forage Crop BIFS Outreach Program - Buy California Initiative (Jan. 2003 - Jan. 2006)
Coordinator: Stuart Pettygrove, UC Cooperative Extension soils specialist, Dept. of Land, Air and Water Resources, UC Davis

For more information, see:
BIFS Buy California Initiative Project

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Grape (fresh)


Biologically Integrated Farming Systems (BIFS) for Table Grapes in the Southern San Joaquin Valley (Oct. 2005 — Sept. 2007)
Principal Investigator: Richard Roush, SAREP
Project Leader: Walt Bentley, UC Integrated Pest Management entomologist

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This project was an on-farm demonstration project in the Southern San Joaquin Valley to increase the adoption of reduced risk pest management practices and materials in table grape vineyards. Project leaders targeted fresh grape growers in Tulare, Kern, and Fresno counties.

Project objectives were:

  1. Reduce the use of FQPA Priority I materials (mainly organophosphates, carbamates and carcinogens including some fungicides) in California table grapes through demonstration and outreach to increase adoption of reduced risk practices and materials for key pests (mealybugs, lepidopterous insects, mites, mildew, and weeds).
  2. Increase and hasten grower transition to more integrated pest management methods through applied on-farm systems research on pest and disease population dynamics of the vineyard floor and canopy, and management of key pests and beneficial species.
  3. Evaluate the level of adoption of biological and reduced risk practices to document a baseline, and track progress in a.) reducing or eliminating the use of high risk pesticides, and b.) transitioning growers towards a more sustainable, agro-ecological approach to farming.

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Lettuce

Enhancing Biologically Integrated Farming Systems (BIFS) for Lettuce on the Central Coast of California (Oct. 2004 — Dec. 2006)
Principal Investigator: Richard Roush, SAREP
Project Leader: William Chaney, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor, Monterey/Santa Cruz counties

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This project conducted on-farm research and demonstration of the biological control of lettuce aphid and other pests to reduce the use/risk of organophosphate and carbamate insecticides through the use of habitat management. Research plots will double as field demonstrations. Research was initially concentrated on organic farms where higher tolerance for early aphid populations allowed project leaders to gather the necessary information on both aphid dynamics and syrphid biology. Project leaders also provided outreach activities to educate growers about biological control as a key component of integrated pest management for lettuce aphid and other pests of romaine lettuce, and on the potential to reduce carbamate and organophosphate insecticide use.

The goal of the project was to reduce the use/risk of organophosphate and carbamate insecticides in lettuce on California's Central Coast through the use of habitat management. Objectives included:

  1. Quantify the populations of lettuce aphid, hoverflies and other natural enemies of aphids in a variety of locations and with varying levels of insectary plantings.
  2. Determine the additive value of in-field insectaries on hoverfly populations.
  3. Educate growers about biological control as a key component of integrated pest management for lettuce aphid and other pests.

For more information, see:
A survey of syrphid predators of Nasonovia ribisnigri in organic lettuce on the Central Coast of California.

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Prune / Dried Plum


California Prune Board Integrated Prune Farming Practices/BIFS
(Jan. 1999 - Dec. 2004)
Principal Investigator: Gary Obenauf, Project Manager, California Dried Plum Board

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The Prune BIFS project, called the Integrated Prune Farming Practices (IPFP) program, developed and demonstrated alternative reduced-risk farming practices on 33 prune farms in nine counties. In 2004, participating prune growers used new recommendations to prevent aphids with a reduced rate of dormant pesticides without the addition of oil. On the 1,696 acres, this practice saved 5,088 pounds of pesticide and 67,840 pounds of oil on the 1,696 acres of participating growers. Through the Prune BIFS project, growers identified potential savings available if BIFS decision guidelines were followed.

Analysis of the Department of Pesticide Regulations’ Pesticide Use Reporting database confirmed that there were statewide changes in pesticide use patterns during the life of the Prune BIFS project. Use of diazinon, Asana, oils and sulfur decreased during the project period. Diazinon used on prunes went from almost 0.7 pounds active ingredient per acre in 1998, one year before the project began, to 0.40 pounds active ingredient per acre in 2002. Sulfur use on prunes in 1998 was over 8 pounds of active ingredient per acre but by 2002 it was just over 2 pounds of active ingredient per acre.

During the project, average yields were the same between the two farming systems and ranged from 4387 to 5139 lbs/acre. Growers and the management team collaborated with PCAs to develop monitoring decision guides to optimize the use of pesticides, water, nitrogen and potassium applications. The Integrated Prune Farming Practices (IPFP) Decision Guide is available for sale at Cooperative Extension offices. By following these decision guides, growers have the potential to greatly reduce the use of organophosphate insecticides, synthetic fertilizers and excess applications of irrigation water. The IPFP was a commodity-based statewide initiative, funded by the BIFS program as well as the Department of Pesticide Regulation, the California Dried Plum Board, the California Water Resources Control Board, and the CalFed Bay-Delta Program.

For more information, see:
Integrated Prune Farming Practices
UC Pest Management Guidelines - Prunes

Prune/Dried Plum BIFS Outreach Program - Buy California Initiative (Jan. 2003 - June 2005)
Coordinator: Fred Thomas, CERUS Consulting

At a series of outreach events during in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valley prune production region, farmer mentors presented to other farmers their experience and success with environmentally sound practices. Mentor farmers were a part of a local adoption team that assisted in the planning of outreach events and review of outreach materials. The targeted audience was prune farmers, who also frequently produce peaches, almonds, and walnuts where the techniques of cover cropping may also be applicable.

For more information, see:
BIFS Buy California Initiative Project.

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Rice


Biologically Integrated Farming Systems in Rice (Jan. 1999 - Dec. 2001)
Principal Investigator: Randall (Cass) Mutters, UC Cooperative Extension Butte County Farm Advisor

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Several environmental and regulatory issues have historically faced California rice growers: air pollution from rice straw burning; movement of pesticides into the Sacramento River; production problems arising from herbicide resistance; and high production costs. The Rice BIFS project addressed these by demonstrating the viability of a variety of practices such a soil incorporation of straw, winter flooding, reduced synthetic nitrogen, deep water and dry down, drill seeding and winter cover crop. Fifteen demonstration fields in Butte County were enrolled; collectively, participating growers control over 12,000 acres of rice. Participating BIFS growers used less herbicides as compared to the Butte County average use rates. For weed control, the alternative non-chemical treatment of "deep water" and "dry down" were demonstrated. This resulted in substantial cost savings during two of the three years of the project. The Rice BIFS growers also reduced nitrogen applications by 30 lbs./acre by using straw incorporation and winter flooding. This practice held promise for widespread adoption, since, based on the project's statewide survey, approximately one-third of rice growers were already practicing it.

For more information, see:
http://www.buttecounty.net/bifsnrice/

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Strawberry


Biological Agriculture Systems in Strawberries (BASIS) (Jan. 1999 - March 2002)
Principal Investigator: Carolee Bull, Research Plant Pathologist, USDA/Agriculture Research Service

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The Strawberry BIFS project focused on exploring a variety of biologically based alternatives to the soon-to-be-banned fumigant, methyl bromide, as well as above ground pests like Lygus. Based on intensive one-on-one scientist-grower interactions, this project enrolled 21 acres of strawberries on 14 farms. Project demonstrations showed that three cultivars, Aromas, Seascape and Pacific, are better adapted to non-fumigated conditions. In attempting to determine mulches, soil inoculants and other cultural practices beneficial to commercial strawberry production, the project showed that bacterial and mycorrhizal inoculants tested and corn gluten meal do not appear to generate benefits. Also, soil solarization is not economical in California because the soil does not get hot enough in the strawberry growing regions. In seeking alternatives to insecticides, the project revealed that periodic vacuuming of alfalfa/mustard plus "trap" crops on the borders of the strawberry plots is a potentially viable, organic control against lygus bug.

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Tomato and Cotton


Extending Biologically Integrated Farming Practices within the San Joaquin Valley's West Side (Sept. 1995 - March 1999)
Principal Investigator: Jeff Mitchell, UC Cooperative Extension vegetable crops specialist

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This project was one of the first BIFS proposals selected for funding. It worked with a variety of row crops including cotton and tomatoes. The project was initiated as a result of reports from row crop farmers that intensification of cropping was causing declines in soil quality and increased pest management problems in San Joaquin Valley's West Side. To respond to this need, the project promoted a variety of biologically integrated soil-building and pest management practices in cotton, tomato and other row crops. Participating farmers experimented with organic soil amendments, cover crops, reduced herbicide use, monitoring of pest and beneficial insects and conservation tillage practices.

By the end of the project, 12 farm managers were participating and had dedicated one or more field sites of 80 acres or more to side-by-side comparison plots of BIFS versus conventional farming practices—a total of 1,653 acres in 16 field sites. The BIFS cooperators managed a total of approximately 90,000 acres in the San Joaquin Valley. The most notable success in this project was in the area of soil building. On the alternative BIFS plots, 75 percent of growers incorporated the use of cover crops or manure and compost amendments into their farming practices during the project. In Fresno County, the estimated use of these practices was only five percent. Three years of physical, chemical and biological data have been collected and analyzed to monitor the impacts of this biologically intensive soil management program. Increases in total soil carbon, microbial biomass carbon and nitrogen, exchangeable potassium, and organic matter were seen in the BIFS sites, compared to the conventional sites. A soil quality index is being developed with this data that should help growers decide on specific management practices beneficial for their soils. By 1998, through the educational activities of the West Side BIFS project, the California vegetable and field crop industry had been introduced to the potential of conservation tillage.

In the area of pest management, intensive monitoring for cotton pests and beneficial insect species was undertaken for two years. Several more biologically based integrated pest manage-ment practices were tried on-farm including the use of cowpea buffer strips for Lygus management and release of beneficial insect species. Overall cotton insecticide use was not significantly reduced on the BIFS demonstration acreage: in 1997, a total of four BIFS growers made 12 insecticide applications versus 13 applications in a control group, and in 1998, 26 versus 29 applications were made.

For weed management, the use of the pre-emergence herbicide Treflan ® at variable rates in tomatoes was adopted by 40 percent of BIFS growers, and 90 percent eliminated its use completely in fields with low weed pressure. The use of the variable rate herbicide application technology was estimated to reduce the amount of Treflan ® used by 40 to 60 percent. At the time, Treflan ® was used in nearly all tomato acreage in Fresno County, and BIFS growers reduced their use of the product by 20 percent during the project.

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Walnut


Expansion of the Biologically Integrated Orchard Systems (BIOS) Model to Northern San Joaquin Valley Walnut Orchards (Jan. 1999 - Dec. 2001)
Principal Investigator: Joseph Grant, UC Cooperative Extension San Joaquin County Farm Advisor

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In December 2001, the San Joaquin County Walnut BIFS team successfully completed a three-year project demonstrating the use of a biologically integrated orchard system in farming walnuts in the northern San Joaquin Valley to reduce on-farm disruption and off-site pollution from the routine use of organophosphate insecticides under review due to the Food Quality Protection Act. In addition, this project demonstrated practices to reduce synthetic nitrogen fertilizer on California's 200,000 acres of walnut orchards. To accomplish this, the project has developed a farming system that which relies on an insect pheromone for disrupting mating, natural enemies of pests, cover crops, and monitoring. Twelve enrolled growers established demonstration blocks for BIFS implementation, and designated conventionally managed blocks for side-by-side comparisons. The project showed that it is possible to greatly reduce the use of conventional pesticides and maintain comparable yields (average yields of 1.6 to 2.5 dehydrated in shell tons per acre). The use of pheromone mating disruption to control codling moth, the major walnut pest, reduced applications of organophosphate insecticides to 17 percent of the BIFS orchards as compared to 88 percent of the grower's conventionally managed orchards. Further, the project reduced synthetic nitrogen use on 324 acres of walnuts by 57 lbs. per acre between 1998 and 2000 with no decline in yields. Growers maintained yields by planting cover crops and lowered nitrogen inputs by monitoring leaf nitrogen and using this crop-based information to make judicious use of fertilizers. A county-wide survey revealed that almost 40 percent of San Joaquin County walnut growers are using a nitrogen budgeting approach to estimate their fertilizer requirements. Project growers were highly motivated to successfully adapt cover cropping in their orchards, which has been shown to improve water penetration, reduce the need for mowing and increase beneficial insects in the orchards. Outreach to area farmers and collaboration with the Community Alliance with Family Farmers and the walnut Pest Management Alliance insure wide dissemination of project results.

For more information, see:
UC Pest Management Guidelines - Walnut - Codling Moth: http://ucipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/r881300211.html

Walnut BIFS Outreach Program - Buy California Initiative (Jan. 2003 - Jan. 2006)
Coordinators: Joseph Grant, UC Cooperative Extension San Joaquin County Farm Advisor, and Kathy Kelley Anderson, UC Cooperative Extension Stanislaus County Farm Advisor

This project targeted walnut growers, pest control advisors, input supplier representatives, and other allied industry professionals in San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Merced counties. Outreach events were planned that focused on alternative walnut orchard management practices that were demonstrated in the walnut BIFS project.

A local adoption team of walnut growers and licensed pest control advisors with experience in biologically integrated orchard management identified five under-utilized alternative technologies to be promoted by this project: 1) nitrogen fertilizer use and budgeting, 2) walnut orchard floor management and cover crops, 3) pheromone mating disruption for reducing codling moth damage, 4) brush chipping and shredding to mitigate adverse effects of orchard operations on air quality, and 5) identification, biology, monitoring and control of key secondary pests.

For more information, see:
BIFS Buy California Initiative Project.

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Views


Winegrape - Central Coast Vineyard Team


Using the Positive Points System to Reduce Chemical Reliance in Vineyards (April 2002 - March 2005)
Principal Investigator: Kris O'Connor, Executive Director, Central Coast Vineyard Team (CCVT)

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The Positive Point System (PPS), a self-assessment tool developed by the CCVT, provided a measure of the level of adoption of sustainable growing practices for growers enrolled in the BIFS project. The average PPS score for enrolled BIFS growers increased 75 points (from 818 to 893, out of a possible 1,000 points) during the three years of the project, mostly due to improved practices in pest, soil, viticulture and water management.

The increase in PPS scores of 26 other winegrape growers in the area during the project period (from 796 to 819) indicated increased implementation of sustainable practices throughout the region, although to a lesser degree than that achieved by enrolled BIFS growers.

The CCVT also developed and refined a pesticide use database for project record keeping and tracking progress. In their analysis, they found that participating growers nearly eliminated organophosphates on their BIFS blocks yet in the region chloropyrifos and diazinon use nearly tripled from 2001 to 2003, reaching 18,134 pounds. Overall, they found their BIFS blocks total of applied pesticide active ingredients declined by 47% during the project (not including sulfur applications). On average, BIFS growers reduced their applied active ingredients by 37 pounds per acre (not including sulfur applications).

For more information, see:
www.vineyardteam.org

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Winegrape - Lodi-Woodbridge Winegrape Commission


Implementing a Biologically Integrated Farming System for Winegrapes in the Lodi-Woodbridge Winegrape District (Sept. 1995 - Dec. 1998)
Principal Investigator: Clifford Ohmart, Research Director, Lodi-Woodbridge Winegrape Commission

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This project was one of the first BIFS proposals selected for funding. The project promoted solutions to over-reliance on water-polluting pre-emergent herbicides, ecologically disruptive insecticides and synthetic fertilizer, and low water use efficiency in the district's vineyards.

Cover crops and monitoring of pests and beneficial species are used in over 70 and 100 percent of the Lodi-Woodbridge BIFS vineyards, respectively. Intensive in-season monitoring and the use of a computer database for managing this information were particular strengths of the project. By the third year of the project the proportion of BIFS vineyards sprayed for mites or leafhoppers had declined from 54 percent in 1996 to 28 percent in 1998. The percentage of acreage treated with pre-emergence herbicides declined from 70 percent to 59 percent, and the percentage of BIFS vineyards using only contact herbicides to control under-the-vine weeds increased from 19 percent in 1996 to 39 percent in 1998. Seventy-three percent of the BIFS acreage has been converted to drip irrigation, up from 57 percent in the first year of the project; this technology change can reduce the use of nitrogen by 50 percent.

The Lodi-Woodbridge BIFS project started with 30 BIFS grower-cooperators and 37 vineyards. By the third year of the project there were 43 BIFS growers working with 60 demonstration BIFS vineyards totaling 2,370 acres. These growers together managed about 50 percent (25,000 acres) of the acreage of vineyards in the Lodi-Woodbridge Winegrape Commission (LWWC).

In 1998, a comprehensive grower survey was sent to over 600 LWWC growers, managers and pest control advisors. Forty-seven percent of the survey respondents had spoken to a BIFS grower and 51 percent had talked with the Lodi-Woodbridge BIFS staff. Ninety-four percent of the growers had read the newsletter and 65 percent had attended a BIFS neighborhood grower meeting. Sixty-six percent of the respondents reported monitoring their vineyards more frequently since 1992. The results of the survey suggest that the Lodi-Woodbridge BIFS project had a significant impact on the entire district's implementation of biologically integrated farming practices.

For more information, see:
Report: Ten Years of Lodi-Woodbridge Winegrape Commission’s Biologically Integrated Farming System Program

www.lodiwine.com/sustainableviticulture1.shtml

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