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Demonstration of Strip Cultivation to Reduce Herbicide Use in North-Central and North-Eastern Perennial Fruit Production

2011 Grantee: Michigan State University
Funding Awarded: $141,343
Fact Sheet PDF (2 pp, 585k, about PDF)

Overview

Herbicide use in perennial fruit production is costly and results in pollution of watersheds, the reduction of non-crop habitat for pollinators and other beneficial arthropods, as well as damage to perennial crops. The goal of this project is to reduce or eliminate herbicide use in North-Central and North-Eastern US perennial fruit production through the demonstration and delivery of strip cultivation systems, an integrated pest management technique.

Strip cultivation will transform “weeds” into a dynamic, functional part of orchard and vineyard agro-ecosystems. The project aims to establish strip cultivation research and demonstration sites at cooperating Michigan apple and grape farms, and measure how adoption of strip cultivation impacts soil fertility and arthropod mediated ecosystem services.

Michigan State University will collaborate with apple and grape growers, New AgNetwork, Michigan Tree Fruit Commission, Midwest Organic Tree Fruit Grower’s Network, National Grape Cooperative/Welch’s, and the Michigan Grape and Wine industry.

Objectives

  • Demonstrate novel non-chemical weed management technologies for temperate North Central and North Eastern apples and grapes
  • Determine the economic costs and benefits of novel technologies
  • Determine the impacts of novel cultivation technologies on pesticide use, pest management programs, soil fertility, and tree/vine health
  • Optimize project impact through delivery of project findings to apple and grape growers

Research

  • Conduct webinars, conference calls and face-to-face meetings
  • Publish news articles, posters, identification guides, educational materials, monthly newsletters, Pest with pest management professionals

Knowledge Transfer

The project seeks to fill the knowledge gap by providing conventional growers with data that directly compares grower standard herbicide practices and strip cultivation.

  • A project webpage Exit EPA Disclaimer will be initiated and regularly updated with program progress
  • Extension presentations will be given throughout the life of the project
  • Grower field days will be hosted at both demonstration sites in the second year of the project
  • A webinar will be presented in the second year of the project
  • Extension bulletins will be produced and distributed in the second year of the project

Desired Outcomes

  • The primary expected outcome will be an anticipated 75-100% reduction in herbicide use on perennial fruit farms that adopt strip cultivation
  • Use of “weeds” as cover crops or green manure is expected to reduce pesticide and nutrient run-off, increase soil carbon sequestration and water holding capacity, and increase the ecosystem services associated with beneficial arthropods
  • Up to 176,000 acres of tree fruit and 73,000 acres of will be vineyards impacted by the adoption of strip cultivation
  • Project will continue past the two-year funding through maintenance of the project webpage Exit EPA Disclaimer

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