Wednesday, January 18, 2012 by Lee Mannering
Sustainability stories: SunWest’s pest management program
After last week’s sustainability story on Subsole’s plans to build solar capacity in Chile, I received an e-mail from Joel Nelsen at the California Citrus Mutual who shared some news about SunWest Fruit Company’s pest management program – which has received the Integrated Pest Management Innovator Award from the California Environmental Protection Agency’s Department of Pesticide Regulation.
SunWest’s efforts include an in-depth scouting program designed to preserve beneficial insects through the use of pheromone puffers located with a global positioning system (GPS) device as an alternative to chemical sprays. They also utilize an aggressive California Red Scale trapping system that includes one trap per five acres, in contrast to the industry practices of one trap per 10 acres. The GPS technology identifies areas that need treatment, allowing for more direct and precise treatment and reducing unnecessary crop protection material applications. The technology has also helped SunWest develop a more economical pest control budget.
Another aspect of their program has resulted in the elimination of using any herbicides known to cause ground and surface water contamination. Using a banded approach in residual herbicide application allows for more native vegetation growth and organic matter in the soil. This, in turn, reduces the leaching of fertilizers and runoff, as well as helps to reduce soil erosion and compaction. Many thanks for Joel for sharing this story with me.