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The Future Role of Pesticides in US Agriculture
Identifying ways to enhance the competitiveness of alternatives or adjuncts by investing in studies of cultural and biological control.
Elucidating fundamental pest biochemistry, physiology, ecology, genomics, and genetics to generate information that can lead to novel pest-control approaches.
Examining residue management, environmental fate (biological, physical, and chemical), and application technology to monitor and reduce environmental damage and adverse health effects of both pesticides and pesticide alternatives.
The lack of basic information on pest population spatial and temporal dynamics is a major impediment to implementation of ecologically based pest management. NSF and EPA could make an important contribution by funding research associated with understanding of pest-population and community dynamics. This type of research is funded by these agencies, but it focuses mostly on natural, as opposed to managed, ecosystems. In addition, all agencies could improve the basic understanding of pests and their impacts by funding longer-term projects that would adequately capture the variability in pest dynamics, including pesticide-resistance evolution, under alternative management systems.
Recommendation 3c. On-farm studies, in addition to laboratory andtest-plot studies, are a necessary component of the research enterprise.Investment in implementation research, which helps to resolve thepractical difficulties that hinder progression from basic findingsto operational utility, is needed.
The idiosyncratic nature of individual agroecosystems limits the utility of both laboratory and test-plot studies in predicting the efficacy of pest-management strategies. An increased emphasis on large-scale and long-term on-farm studies through the use of the global positioning system (GPS) and global information system (GIS) technologies could contribute substantially to diversifying management tools and approaches. The goal might be best achieved by investment of at least some ear-marked funds to ensure stability of funding. Such research programs should remove the gap between “basic” and “demonstration ” research for all managed and natural ecosystems. USDA needs to fund applied research because there are limits to models that serve basic science as well. Such models advance fundamental knowledge, but often the major economic problems involve organisms that are hardly ideal from a fundamental scientific viewpoint. These problems can be best addressed by research on the organisms in question. The information generated by applied on-farm research is crucial to extension scientists, crop consultants, and producers.