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EPA Funds Project to Demonstrate Less is Better With Insecticides at Cranberry Farms in New Jersey

Release Date: 02/22/2006
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(#06021) NEW YORK Rutgers University’s EcoComplex in Bordentown hosted the presentation of a $96,200 check from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the university for a two-year project to demonstrate that production of cranberries, one of the state’s highest valued crops, can be sustained while reducing farmers’ dependence on insecticides. New Jersey ranks third in cranberry acres harvested, behind Wisconsin and Massachusetts, with an annual crop value of $14 million.

“New Jersey’s farms play an essential role in the state’s economy, but overuse of chemical insecticides can harm sensitive environments, such as the New Jersey Pinelands, where most of the state’s cranberries are grown,” said EPA Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg. “It’s a simple equation. The smaller the amount of chemicals applied to the cranberry crop, the smaller the amount that washes into our waterways.”

Rutgers will use the EPA funding to explore more novel, reduced-risk methods for controlling insects and pests in cranberry production. The project is part of the agency’s overall efforts to promote Integrated Pest Management practices (IPM), protect public health and reduce non-point source pollution in ecologically sensitive watershed areas. It will also help reduce farm worker exposure to insecticide residues.

Rutgers University Blueberry and Cranberry Research and Extension Center will be working with state and county organizations and five farms in Burlington County to identify cost-effective ways to control fruit rotting diseases and track the impacts of reduced chemical pesticides on species in cranberry fields while measuring and recording the amounts of insecticides used.

Accepting the grant from EPA was Robert Goodman, the Dean of Rutgers University’s Cook College. The growers from the five farms, three in Chatsworth, one in Tabernacle and one in Browns Mills, also attended the presentation.

Integrated pest management is an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of common-sense practices, such as mating disruption techniques. IPM programs use the latest information on the life cycles of pests and their interaction with the environment. This information, in combination with available pest control methods, is used to manage pest damage by the most economical means, and with the least possible hazard to people, property and the environment.

The IPM approach takes advantage of all appropriate pest management options, including the judicious use of pesticides, as compared to organic food production, which limits the use of pesticides to those that are produced from natural sources. The acceptance of the IPM approach in food production is best described as a continuum and EPA’s goal is to move growers further along the continuum to using all appropriate IPM techniques. To find out more about Integrated Pest Management visit EPA’s website at: