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The Future Role of Pesticides in US Agriculture
decision-makers with the flexibility needed to select from a menu of alternatives and to tailor practices to particular production systems.
A basic premise of an ecological approach to pest management is to manipulate biological processes to manage pests. For example, the impact of weeds on crop yield will depend on a number of biological factors, such as time of weed emergence and rate of weed growth ( Box 6-1). Understanding these physiological factors can help a pest manager to determine optimal timing for intervention strategies, such as herbicide use to manage weed population to a level where benefits outweigh costs of control. University research and extension scientists, in collaboration with producers, should strive to develop biologically based decision-making that optimizes pest-management strategies for economic and environmental goals.
5b. Land-grant universities should emphasize systems-based interdisciplinaryresearch and teaching and foster instruction in applied biology andrisk evaluation for nonscientists.
There is a need to educate legislators and the general public about ecologically based pest management in research and in practice. Investment in increasing K-12 exposure to concepts of risk evaluation, food agriculture, and general biology can also have enormous benefits in creating a more knowledgeable and educated electorate.
5c. An effort should be made, in the government and in the land-grantsystem, to educate and train scientists about the value of publicoutreach.
The public sector should provide incentives and training for scientists to communicate effectively to the public about principles and practices of ecologically based pest management. Such incentives are almost nonexistent in many institutions, particularly outside the agriculture colleges. Outreach efforts, because of their overall value in providing popular support for the research enterprise, should be accorded some commensurate value in decisions related to career advancement and professional stature.
Our goal in agriculture should be the production of high-quality food and fiber at low cost and with minimal deleterious effects on humans or the environment. To make agriculture more productive and profitable in the face of rising costs and rising standards of human and environmental health, we will have to use the best combination of available technologies. These technologies should include chemical, as well as biological and recombinant, methods of pest control integrated into ecologically bal