California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR):

California funds research to find greener alternatives to growing crops

Continuing in its efforts to help find “greener” i.e. less toxic ways to tackle soilborne pests, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) announced that it will give almost half a million dollars in grants to three California research projects.

The funding, from DPR’s Pest Management Research Grants Program, demonstrates the department’s commitment to help California find ways to reduce its dependence on chemicals - known as soil fumigants. (Fumigants are pesticides injected into the soil of agricultural fields prior to planting).

“All three of these grants are innovative approaches to develop methods of producing food that are less dependent upon fumigants,” said DPR Director Brian Leahy. “Yet they still provide the necessary certainty to growers to allow them to survive and remain in business."

Recipients of this year’s grants are:
  • The California Strawberry Commission $298,472: This research project will, among other things, examine how to improve the effectiveness of a method that is currently used to grow strawberries known as ASD. The project will help to determine if the ASD process is improved by adding a small amount of fumigants to it. ASD involves feeding some naturally occurring bacteria found in the soil, saturating the soil with water, and then covering it with a plastic tarp, causing the plant residues to decompose without oxygen. The resulting byproducts are toxic to many soilborne pests.
  • University of California Cooperative Extension, Merced County $74,384: This project looks at pistachios, a California speciality crop. The yield of pistachio trees can be reduced by nematodes (microscopic worms). This study aims to examine whether fumigation can be completely eliminated from sandy soils and still produce healthy pistachio trees unaffected by nematodes. It also looks at whether there are particular varieties of pistachios that resist nematode damage better than others.
  • University of California Cooperative Extension, Merced County $108,433: Almond orchards are often fumigated before the trees are planted to prevent damage from nematodes (microscopic worms) or soilborne diseases. This grant will examine whether healthy almond orchards can be grown using reduced-rate fumigation methods or through planting almond varieties that resist nematode or disease damage.
Last year DPR awarded almost $1 million in research grants.

Leahy added, “DPR is proud to continue the tradition of using innovative research to reduce risks associated with pesticide use in California.”

For more information:
Charlotte Fadipe
California Environmental Protection Agency
Tel: +1 916.445.3974

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