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U.S. EPA awards $50,000 to University of California for walnut pesticide research and outreach

Release Date: 10/29/2003
Contact Information: Mark Merchant, 415-947-4297

SAN FRANCISCO -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that the California Walnut Marketing Board and the University of California are the joint recipients of a $50,000 grant to fund ongoing pest management and pesticide reduction projects.

The money will go to the University of California, which is working with the Walnut Marketing Board on this project. The focus of this grant is to make pest mating disruptors a reliable and economically viable alternative to pesticides for growers. If successful, this low-risk practice will help growers move away from using high-risk pesticides towards a more sustainable agricultural practice, which will help protect water bodies from pesticide runoff.

The Walnut Pest Management Alliance which is made up of the Walnut Marketing Board and federal, state, county and local partners, as well as private industry will perform the work under this grant. The PMA has already completed four years, out of a total of five, of research and field demonstration with money from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation.

The Walnut Pest Management Alliance work plan outlines a project designed to encourage large-scale adoption of reduced-risk pest management strategies for growing walnuts with an emphasis on the grower education and participation.

"What the Walnut Pest Management Alliance is doing is an important step toward employing more sustainable practices in the walnut industry," said Enrique Manzanilla, director of the Cross Media Division in the EPA's Pacific Southwest regional office. "We are glad we have the opportunity to fund this work."

Funded as part of the EPA Food Quality Protection Act Grants Program, the Univerisity of California and the Walnut Marketing Board cited six objectives it would like to accomplish with the help of this EPA grant:

  • to continue to build upon the Walnut Pest Management Alliance Team for outreach and implementation of reduced-risk strategies;
  • to refine and evaluate reduced risk methods for pest control in walnuts;
  • to re-evaluate in-season damage assessment protocols;
  • to determine whether less labor-intensive methods are reliable for predicting damage;
  • to monitor secondary pests and beneficial insects;
  • and to develop information on the average costs growers use to control codling moth in Tehama and San Joaquin County.