For Immediate Release
Almond Board of California Press Release
Dec. 1, 2006
Contact: Gabriele Ludwig, Almond Board of California
(209) 765-0578

New study: Public-private partnerships providing ag environmental solutions. Almond Board partnerships hailed as successful models. 

(Modesto, Calif.) - - Partnerships between researchers, extension agents and growers that encourage greater participation and a cooperative learning environment are providing real-world solutions to many of the environmental issues facing California farmers, according to a recent study.

The study by a leading university agro-environmental researcher points to the Almond Pest Management Alliance as a primary example of the success of such public/private partnerships.

Study author Keith Douglass Warner of the Environmental Studies Institute at Santa Clara University said many of these partnerships, such as the Biologically Integrated Farming Systems and Pest Management Alliance projects, have helped successfully integrate alternatives to widely used traditional pesticides into mainstream farming systems by promoting a high level of grower participation and support.

Titled “Integrated Farming Systems and Pollution Prevention Initiatives Stimulate Co-Learning Extension Strategies,” the study reports that the growth and success of these programs reflects a shift from the cooperative extension’s early model of “technology transfer” to an emphasis on participatory co-learning and decision-making support.

By creating a more participatory, systems-based approach, growers have been able to integrate alternative strategies, such as pest monitoring, beneficial insects, softer insecticides and cultural practices, to reduce their reliance on broad-spectrum insecticide use.

Since the passage of the Food Quality Protection Act in 1996 and the resulting cancellation or restriction of several economically important organophosphate insecticides, some 32 partnerships have emerged to promote the use of such alternative pest management practices in 16 California commodities. These partnerships have engaged more than 500 growers and nearly 100 UC scientists, extension specialists and farm advisors.

The almond industry in 1998 created the Almond Pest Management Alliance to study and promote a reduced-risk system of almond production. The Almond PMA was a public/private partnership between UC Cooperative Extension farm advisors and area Integrated Pest Management advisors, the Almond Board of California, the Almond Hullers and Processors Association and CDPR.

The accomplishments of that eight-year project are detailed in a publication titled, The Seasonal Guide to Environmentally Responsible Pest Management Practices in Almonds.

Warner and co-author Christy Getz, an assistant cooperative extension specialist at UC Berkeley, cite reductions in the use of organophosphates in almonds and other crops as one example of the success of these integrated farming programs.

“The California almond industry has documented the greatest volume reduction of OP use, from almost 500,000 pounds in 1992 to just over 100,000 pounds in 2000,” the study states. “Much of this reduction is attributed to growers switching to pyrethroid insecticides, however partnership activities have also played an important role.”

Dave Baker, chair of the Almond Board of California’s Environmental Stewardship Committee, said the almond industry is a pioneer in pursuing integrated, economically viable production practices that help address issues related to air, water and soil quality.

“Largely through partnerships like the Almond Pest Management Alliance, almond growers have been able to successfully develop and incorporate environmentally friendly production practices into their standard growing programs,” he said.  

Gabriele Ludwig, senior manager of global technical and regulatory affairs for the Almond Board of California, said projects such as the Almond PMA serve as a model for addressing ongoing environmental issues, such as air and water quality, in a collaborative manner.

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