Now in its eighth year, the Pacific Northwest Pest Alert Network, sends e-mail to its 526 subscribers and posts information on its Web site that helps farmers time their pest management treatments and minimize their pesticide use.
Jerry Neufeld, University of Idaho Extension educator in Canyon County and PNW Pest Alert coordinator, says annual surveys of the service’s subscribers indicate that they are increasing their field scouting, decreasing their pesticide sprays and using other integrated pest management methods in response to the information they’re getting through the pest network.
In 2007, 45 percent of Web site subscribers said they had scouted their fields more often to document pest levels before taking treatment actions; 29 percent had observed that a spray they applied was more effective because of better timing; 18 percent had used beneficial insects, pheromone traps, chemical rotations or other IPM strategies, and 8 percent had reduced the number of sprays applied to their crops.
“They’re documenting pest levels in their fields, based upon their own field scouting, before they apply a pesticide,” said Neufeld. “That’s very important to us, because one of our goals is to help them make informed decisions about when to spray.”
First launched in 2001 as the Treasure Valley Pest Alert, the Web site recorded slightly more than 32,000 visits in 2007. Not only do participants receive messages but they also report pest outbreaks, which are verified by University of Idaho or Oregon State University Extension faculty before being posted. In addition, the site offers extensive information on pests and pest management.Producers can subscribe to the service at any time.
“The more people who participate, the more successful we’ll be and the greater value we’ll have to the agriculture industry,” Neufeld noted.This year’s sponsors include the Idaho Potato Commission, Idaho Alfalfa and Clover Seed Commission, Malheur County Onion Growers Association, Idaho Onion Growers Association and the Idaho Sugar Beet Research Commission.