This project will form a coalition of university research and Extension personnel, private not-for-profit organizations, and Northeastern apple growers to develop new IPM technology to optimize applications of reduced-risk insecticides and fungicides, increase their efficacy, minimize harmful effects on beneficials, and protect the environment. An eco-marketing system to distinguish apples grown according to these protocols will be designed to provide a premium price to participating growers helping them offset the cost of implementing these reduced-risk IPM programs. This combination of reduced-risk IPM and eco-marketing can be adapted to other crop systems throughout the U.S. <P>The specific objectives of this proposed study are: <OL> <LI>To develop new IPM technology and tactics designed to enhance the effectiveness and reduce costs of management programs in apple orchards using reduced-risk insecticides. <LI>To develop Eco Apple protocols and a value-added logistics and marketing program for New York and New England growers.
Non-Technical Summary: Integrated pest management can reduce pesticide use on apples, but new pesticide regulations and the nature of IPM make it more expensive and somewhat riskier than using more pesticides. This project works with growers, marketing specialists and pest managment researchers to develop a comprehensive system that joins IPM practices with marketing to help develop increased returns for IPM growers. <P> Approach: A partnership among Northeastern scientists, growers, and mission-driven marketers brings the unique skill mix needed to develop and commercialize a leading-edge, advanced-IPM protocol for apples. Contributions by land-grant scientists, extension professionals, talented farmers, and an entrepreneurial not-for-profit markete, together and aligned, enable us to overcome barriers imposed by regulatory systems, pest resistance, consumer acceptance, the rising cost of new pesticides, and global marketplace constraints. The results will be an innovative pest management protocol, a strong and growing marketplace position for a branded product line called Eco Apples, and ongoing systems for measuring and motivating improvements and growth of the marketing and production system. IPM has developed from simple systems that target a single pest to advanced systems that focus on farm ecology and attempt to involve the market. While the Food Quality Protection Act has restricted the use of traditional pesticides for apples, and while apple pests are showing resistance to traditional and newer pesticides, researchers are showing that advanced IPM programs perform effectively, utilizing reduced-risk tools. However, these tools cost more than older IPM methods. Cost limits widespread adoption of advanced IPM systems. The key to progress lies in better markets and prices for growers. This project adds a comprehensive eco-marketing program. More than passive eco-certification, it includes packaging, branding, in-store promotion, trade buyer and consumer education, and logistics management. This model, integrating advanced IPM technology and an eco-marketing program, can be applied to other high-value commodities, and is replicable in other regions of the country.