The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) recently awarded a grant to assist in further biologically integrated farming research. The CDFA funding support of $1 million will be administered through the Office of Pesticide Consultation and Analysis (OPCA) Biologically Integrated Farming Systems (BIFS) grant program.
“The BIFS grants program has helped established some long-lasting, valuable Integrated Pest Management agricultural systems,” CDFA Secretary Karen Ross said in a press release. “BIFS practices have been found to reduce pesticide use, including chlorpyrifos and other organophosphate insecticides; improve soil fertility; decrease erosion and nitrogen leaching; and increase populations of beneficial insects, fishes, birds and game—all of which are very important in creating sustainable, climate-smart agricultural operations.”
The new BIFS project, ‘Refinement and Implementation of an Areawide Program for Vineyard Pathogens and their Insect Vectors,’ will last four years and is receiving strong support from the winegrape industry. The research will be done on two, thousand-acre demonstration blocks in the Lodi and Central Coast winegrape regions. Led by Dr. Kent Daane of UC Berkeley, the project will be evaluating the efficacy of pheromone disruption tools in controlling vine mealybug, which carries grape leafroll disease. Vines that are infected by the disease will be removed to prevent further spread.
Researching biologically integrated farming systems through the BIFS grant program is part of a much broader effort to bolster overall pest management tools and techniques. The BIFS grant program is aimed at reducing the reliance on chemical insecticide inputs, particularly biologically disruptive insecticides. The funding for the program is derived from OPCA‘s budget to help farmers transition away from chlorpyrifos.
A review committee comprised of scientists from the University of California, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and California State University, as well as a private sector pest control advisor, reviewed several project proposals and made an award recommendation to CDFA. Further information on the BIFS program and the application process is available through the OPCA webpage.