UMass Amherst Recognized for Helping Farmers Reduce Pesticide Use

AMHERST, Mass. - The University of Massachusetts Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program recently won a 2000 Governor''s Award for outstanding achievement in reducing toxins in the environment. The award is given annually to Massachusetts institutions or individuals that have shown a significant commitment to reduce the use of pesticides and other toxic substances in their operation, or have helped others identify or eliminate toxic substances in the environment before those substances become public health hazards.

"UMass has developed an IPM Certification Program for growers across the state," explained William Coli, IMP coordinator for UMass Extension and a member of the entomology department faculty at UMass. "We''ve given farmers practical, but research-based, knowledge they can use to adopt environmentally benign pest-management strategies to their operations. We''ve shown them how they can reduce their use of pesticides without losing quality or efficiency in crop or animal production."

The UMass IPM techniques were shared first with Massachusetts apple growers, but later were adapted to other types of agriculture, including the cultivation of cranberries, several vegetables, greenhouse crops, and even golf course turf, according to Coli. He adds that the success of the UMass program propelled the state to implement an IPM program for state facilities, and to create a state contract for pest-control contractors.

"We''re pleased that our contributions to environmental protection have been recognized," Coli said, "but the award should have been given to the farmers who have used IPM successfully in Franklin and Hampshire counties, in towns such as Berlin, Bolton, Groton, Wareham, Leominister, Fitchburg, Sterling, Harvard, and in southeastern Massachusetts. These are the people who are protecting the local environment from toxins by making IPM a reality," Coli said.

The UMass IPM Program has published a book of guidelines for growers, available through the UMass Extension Bulletin Distribution Center, 413/545-2717.