Organic Pest Management

Hands on Organic Integrated Pest Management:

Farm Walks Scheduled for August and September

By Joanie Quinn, NMDA Organic Program

Squash bugs, grasshoppers, flea beetles, aphids, borers, hornworms, codling moths and bagrada bugs will be front and center in a series of Organic Integrated Pest Management Farm Walks presented by New Mexico State University and the New Mexico Department of Agriculture Organic Program this August and September. The Spotted Wing Drosophila—new to New Mexico in 2013, and a very difficult-to-manage pest of soft fruits and berries will also be up for examination.

‘Farmscaping’ and other techniques aimed at increasing the numbers of beneficial organisms will be discussed including the use of ‘insectary’ plants, hedgerows, cover crops, nest boxes or roosting sites, etc., that can attract and support beneficial organisms such as predatory and parasitic insects, spiders, birds, and bats, all of which can help suppress insect pests and/or problem vertebrates such as mice and gophers. Use of pheromones, trap crops and row covers will also be discussed in this holistic, all-farm approach to management of agricultural pests. Monitoring for pests will also be covered.

The farmwalks are hosted by certified organic producers of a variety of crops throughout New Mexico. The walks will provide organic farmers and market gardeners (and those thinking about converting to organic practices) with an informal overview of approaches to pest management in organic systems, and – perhaps more importantly – an opportunity to connect with other growers and share experiences. Each walk will be led by Dr. Tess Grasswitz (Urban/Small Farm IPM Specialist at the New Mexico State University Agriculture Science Center at Los Lunas) and Joanie Quinn (New Mexico Department of Agriculture Organic Advisor).

To insure that everyone is able to participate fully in the discussions, attendance at the walks will be capped at 50 participants. No refreshments will be provided, plan to bring at least one bottle of water. Please wear closed-toe shoes and comfortable clothing. Bring sun protection and a hat. Restroom facilities may not be available in all locations. In consideration of the farm hosts and their pets, and the well-being of your pets, dogs will not be allowed on the walks and will not be allowed to stay in vehicles during walks. This will be strictly enforced. Parking may be in fields off-road. The walks are free, but you must register at least one week in advance by calling (505) 865-7340. The walks are funded by a grant from the USDA/National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Schedule (all walks will take place from 1:00-4:00 pm):

Wednesday, August 20, ARCA Organics, Corrales: Mixed vegetables, berries, cover crops, strip tillage

Wednesday, August 27, NMSU Ag Science Center, Los Lunas: Fruit and mixed vegetables, pollinator plants, field trials of organic pest management techniques, and habitat for beneficials and predators

Wednesday, September 3, Hidden Acres Farm, Hobbs: Mixed vegetables on drip irrigation, wildlife shelter belt

Wednesday, September 24, Farside Farm, Mendanales: 6,000 grape vines, cut flowers, hoop houses, mixed vegetables, constructed wetlands