8

Key Components and Elements Critical to Achieving the Vision: Group Discussion Summary

KIM J. WADDELL

Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources, National Research Council

Workshop participants convened in small discussion groups to identify key components necessary for research and implementation of ecological approaches to pest management. Discussion questions (see Appendix A) were designed to explore interdisciplinary approaches that could cut across individual society interests. The groups explored a number of issues and questions: How can we advance or implement ecologically based pest management (EBPM) and its principles? What are the goals and challenges within EBPM-related research? What are the knowledge gaps for research and the institutional constraints that inhibit EBPM research and implementation? Finally, what are the opportunities that professional societies could pursue to foster EBPM research and implementation?

FINDING COMMON GROUND

Throughout the group discussions, a number of participants used the terms “EBPM” and “IPM” (integrated pest management) interchangeably.1 However, for others, there were also perceptible differences in the uses and meanings of

1  

The terms “EBPM” and “IPM” are used in this chapter interchangeably, except in discussions exploring the specific differences between the two terms, or when workshop participants are making explicit references to one or the other term.



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PROFESSIONAL SOCIETIES and Ecologically Based Pest Management: Proceedings of a Workshop 8 Key Components and Elements Critical to Achieving the Vision: Group Discussion Summary KIM J. WADDELL Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources, National Research Council Workshop participants convened in small discussion groups to identify key components necessary for research and implementation of ecological approaches to pest management. Discussion questions (see Appendix A) were designed to explore interdisciplinary approaches that could cut across individual society interests. The groups explored a number of issues and questions: How can we advance or implement ecologically based pest management (EBPM) and its principles? What are the goals and challenges within EBPM-related research? What are the knowledge gaps for research and the institutional constraints that inhibit EBPM research and implementation? Finally, what are the opportunities that professional societies could pursue to foster EBPM research and implementation? FINDING COMMON GROUND Throughout the group discussions, a number of participants used the terms “EBPM” and “IPM” (integrated pest management) interchangeably.1 However, for others, there were also perceptible differences in the uses and meanings of 1   The terms “EBPM” and “IPM” are used in this chapter interchangeably, except in discussions exploring the specific differences between the two terms, or when workshop participants are making explicit references to one or the other term.

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PROFESSIONAL SOCIETIES and Ecologically Based Pest Management: Proceedings of a Workshop the terms and, as the issue was explored, the groups spent a considerable amount of time determining the conceptual differences between IPM and EBPM. In an effort to bring these views together and find some common ground, Neal Van Alfen, led workshop participants in a discussion on various perspectives surrounding the vision of EBPM. The discussion began by exploring the use of terminology and its implications for IPM and EBPM. There was general agreement that IPM had historically been an ecologically based approach and largely still was, but there was a call for a shift in emphasis to more long-term research approaches. Several members of the discussion group voiced the opinion that IPM was a term that should be retained, since IPM is still connected to its foundation of ecological principles. Others suggested that perhaps there were reasons for change, and pointed to a similar situation from the field of forestry when a change in nomenclature and management practices (from “forestry” to “ecosystem management ”) resulted in greater public recognition and acceptance. For those supporting a change in the terminology, some view IPM as having drifted from the ecological systems-based approaches—based on the perception that IPM has not adequately addressed the ecological causes of the environmental problems in today's agriculture. If there is to be genuine progress toward the shared goal, there should be a focus on modifying the existing infrastructure to incorporate a broader base of ecological knowledge as well as new technologies, so that we can increase our rate of progress toward the shared goals of IPM and EBPM. If successful, the stage would be set for progress toward a common vision. To further advance EBPM as a viable pest management system to farmers, the discussion participants acknowledged that farmers needed to understand the value of shifting from maximum yields to sustaining managed ecosystems. There should also be a stronger focus on issues of quality—quality of the products and of the production system. Furthermore, the definition of profitability needs to be broadened and should incorporate the environmental costs that may be forthcoming with different pest management systems. From this foundation the groups felt they were able to proceed further and identify goals for research. Multidisciplinary research was repeatedly identified as a critical step toward addressing both component and systems-level challenges for EBPM. The complexity of managed ecosystems requires expertise and research across the range of biological and social sciences, and, in order to understand and manage the interactions between crop and pest in an ecologically sound way, researchers will need to draw upon multiple disciplines. Another goal for EBPM is to incorporate established ecological concepts. One of the challenges in agriculture is the recognition of current limitations in modern ecology. Theory has advanced enormously in the last 10 years to accommodate large-scale, long-term experimentation, and there are a number of new methodologies being developed. One approach for EBPM practitioners to consider is to consult leaders in the ecological community who can identify what is currently possible but also what is not possible. The group acknowledged that, during discussions and workshops, participants often

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PROFESSIONAL SOCIETIES and Ecologically Based Pest Management: Proceedings of a Workshop assume a greater understanding of ecology than is actually known by researchers and theoreticians. For example, the workshop presentations illustrate how much more is needed to identify and address critical questions that involve microbial processes before we can advance to another stage of our management strategy for soils. PARTNERSHIPS Professional societies are in a unique position to influence the direction and extent of research and implementation that can support ecologically based integrated pest management. Practitioners and scientists who attended the conference emphasized that collaborations should not be limited to scientists or professional societies. To be truly interdisciplinary, research should extend beyond these boundaries to other interested organizations and groups such as producers, input suppliers, nongovernmental organizations, and academic scientists. Many participants felt that developing partnerships with industry and other groups will be essential to EBPM. For example, the workshop participants suggested that there could be partnerships between researchers/practitioners of EBPM and the plant protection industry, which has a sophisticated marketing program and, consequently, a very powerful presence in the market. The perception held by the discussion groups was that there has been much improvement in environmental sensitivity within both the consumer and industry sectors, and this sensitivity could be further enhanced via these partnerships. The same logic could be applied for other partnerships with the chemical industry, the food processing industry, and other industries that are involved in agriculture. The participants acknowledged that there would be some obvious polarization that might exist between industry views and researcher views. If and where that occurs, it might be most productive to involve a wider range of societies and organizations in facilitating the dialogue and reminding the differing parties of their common interests and objectives. The societies that represented cross-sector or multidiscipline interests like the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, and the American Institute of Biological Sciences may have the best chance of bridging the gaps between the disparate views expressed. There was also a call for partnerships with existing public interest groups that already have regional networks of stakeholders such as the sustainable agriculture working groups, which are citizen groups. These opportunities could result in additional grassroots support and infrastructure, a critical resource for public education, and raising political awareness. A common interest in EBPM and the issues surrounding farm and rural community structure and stability can initiate other partnerships among societies representing social scientists, applied anthropologists, rural development experts, and political scientists. The issues of pesticide use and safety and environmental health concerns could bring the public health societies, such as

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PROFESSIONAL SOCIETIES and Ecologically Based Pest Management: Proceedings of a Workshop the American Public Health Association, to a partnership. Other organizations that find issues within EBPM of interest include practitioner organizations such as the Association of Conservation Districts, Association of Farm Managers, and Certified Crop Consultants Association, public policy groups such as county commissioners, and the AAAS fellows. There are producer organizations that have a stake in EBPM, such as various commodity groups, organizations of crop consultants, processors, and marketers, including cooperatives and grocery store chains, that have a stake in IPM labeling and organic products. There are also consumer organizations, input suppliers, cooperative extensions (both the general basic extension and the IPM cooperative extension program), environmental organizations such as the Natural Resources Defense Council, federal and state departments of agriculture, the National Science Foundation, and various nongovernmental organizations, all of which represent potential partners with common interests in EBPM. The economic principles associated with IPM and EBPM need to be fully distributed, because profitability is often seen as the primary motivation in farmers adopting a given strategy. Nonetheless, farmers are still committed to issues beyond that of profitability. Farmers are also interested in safety for workers and consumers, the durability of their production systems, and environmental protection of the land and its resources. Many also want to increase their understanding of sustainable agriculture. This combination of values makes many farmers ideal participants in any partnerships with researchers or professional societies. Given the range of farm products and farm size in American agriculture, there are a variety of opportunities that the researchers and professional societies can use to identify the issues and constraints that the farmers face in their pest management plans. This relationship would also reduce the lag time between the successful development of new pest management strategies by researchers and the consideration and application of these strategies by farmers. On the issue of collaborators and partners, Several of the workshop participants felt that it should be much more farmer centered than it traditionally has been. There is the perception that farmers should be more involved in observing and monitoring roles in the development of EBPM strategies and approaches. If farmers were also involved in shaping the questions, they could be extremely effective in farmer-to-farmer education. Their participation and success could stimulate more participation by other farmers whose systems could provide valuable insights from further scientific study. GAPS AND OTHER ISSUES IN CURRENT RESEARCH The discussion groups readily identified numerous gaps in research that need to be addressed before EBPM could have broad application and acceptance in American agriculture. Many of the gaps are in disciplines that already contribute to current pest management strategies. Other gaps reflect the lack of integration of current ideas and approaches from more basic research areas, seen, for example, in contemporary ecological research in natural systems.

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PROFESSIONAL SOCIETIES and Ecologically Based Pest Management: Proceedings of a Workshop Finally, the groups identified research gaps in areas of agriculture that might have considerable impact on how pest management could be practiced in the future—via transgenics and organic cropping systems. There is a call for a stronger landscape ecology perspective in pest management research because much of the dynamics of pests is determined outside of individual farm fields. Proactive approaches, such as prevention, need to be more of a focus in pest management. Research should develop a greater understanding of the nature and consequences of dispersal in pest species. The issue of biodiversity in agricultural systems warrants further research. Many questions emerged from this area of discussion. Should managed systems be modeled after natural systems where pest species appear to be “controlled”? From an understanding of the functionality of some natural systems, is it possible to transfer that knowledge into the design of agricultural systems? How does biodiversity affect the functionality in the system? How do these questions change with different spatial and temporal scales of managed ecosystems? It was noted that some applied areas of pest management (weed science was identified as an example) are perceived to be lacking a foundation of ecological theory. An obvious first step would be to incorporate more of the ecological theories that are relevant to pest management strategies into these applied sciences. This process begins in the classroom within these science programs, but also could become a fixed part of certification programs for pest managers. The ecologists in these applied fields can use, via their respective professional societies, the annual meetings, forums, and symposia to integrate the relevant ecological theories into their disciplines for the benefit of their fellow members. The group also noted that more research should focus on those managed ecosystems where there are few or no pest problems as a way to understand more about what makes these systems successful. Again, if researchers more frequently included farmers in the process, and there was a stronger network of farmers involved, it is possible that researchers would find more farm systems available for study that had success in managing their pest populations. The participants noted that a great deal more research is still needed in existing and well-developed research areas of pest management. More studies in population biology, including studies of the population genetics of both pest and beneficial species, are needed. There was also a demand for a greater understanding of the mechanisms of action of biological control agents, traditional chemicals, and some of the newer chemicals that promote systemic acquired resistance and other resistance mechanisms. Soil ecology was another research area requiring more development, particularly in the area of nutrient or waste recycling within various soil ecosystems. There was demand for more economic and sociological research contrasting different farming practices (e.g., comparing conventional and organic approaches) as well as IPM and other pest management strategies. More studies in landscape biology and conservation biology in managed ecosystems were also requested. The groups also acknowledged that, in spite of the fact that there is a call for large-scale research projects that examine the interactions of the various crops with their environment, there was still a great need for component research. Within many

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PROFESSIONAL SOCIETIES and Ecologically Based Pest Management: Proceedings of a Workshop systems, there is much that is not understood that will require more detailed studies of individual species or phenomena. There was considerable discussion about transgenic crops and their impact on pest management. It was noted that there is little known about the economic and ecological changes that can occur in ecosystems when transgenic crops are introduced and whether this new technology may have some cascading effects in managed ecosystems. Another gap in agricultural research that has implications for EBPM is the current level of research and data that evaluate the impact of transgenic crops in pest management strategies. Due to intellectual and business property issues inherent in the development of the different lines of these crops by the private sector, researchers in the public sector and farmers may feel left “out of the loop.” There was concern that there will be a significant time lag between the studies that examine the agronomic characteristics (including pest susceptibility) of these new crop lines and the growing commercial acceptance and use of these crops. A correlative concern was that a disproportionate amount of the research dollars will be used in investigating these crops at the expense of other important studies that might further EBPM strategies. There is a paucity of virtually every type of research in the study of organic cropping systems, and it was also noted that there is substantial variation between regions and crops in our understanding of pest management practices in organic systems. A number of local participants attending the workshop acknowledged that, for North Carolina, there are increasing opportunities and interest in organic systems, but that researchers have yet to exploit these opportunities. Researchers' relationships with farmers could be enhanced with some changes in research methodology. There was some discussion about the difficulty of involving farmers in traditionally designed research that often involves getting farmers to commit two or more years of resources to on-farm research. It was suggested that researchers look beyond traditional agricultural statistical designs (e.g., randomized complete blocks with three years of data) and attempt to find or develop other experimental designs for on-farm research that could be more acceptable and less costly for farmers to consider. Another development that might enhance the appeal of implementing EBPM strategies for farmers and researchers is to examine the ecological buffering capacity of IPM systems. Researchers could develop ways that this capacity would be enhanced in an effort to minimize the fluctuations that are often seen in pest populations that impact farm income in monocropping systems. A parallel corollary to this was suggested to further explore strategies used in IPM/EBPM—such as crop rotation, intercropping, and planting a diversity of crops —in order to strengthen on-farm economic buffering in an effort to reduce the fluctuations in prices and income that farmers can experience.

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PROFESSIONAL SOCIETIES and Ecologically Based Pest Management: Proceedings of a Workshop INSTITUTIONAL CONSTRAINTS FOR EBPM The perceived lack of public recognition of IPM also has public and political institution-level consequences. Some participants felt that agricultural researchers do not have effective lobbying efforts on-going in Congress, and consequently their views and issues do not have a strong voice or presence, either individually or collectively. It was also pointed out that researchers and societies have not maximized the opportunity in publicizing interdisciplinary successes or the success of IPM programs in the public media. One consequence of the lack of coverage is the relatively low public awareness of IPM, particularly of the evolution and progress of these management strategies over the last 30–35 years. Participants identified public education and outreach in subject areas that included food production, processing, and related food and environmental safety issues as important areas for improvement. If this effort begins with children, there is the hope that the public, in 10–15 years, can make better-educated decisions as consumers and voters. The lack of voice with policy makers affects funding of research projects at the national level. The participants suggested that there is a need for increased funding for EBPM programs and they noted the value of the large national projects, such as the Center for Integrated Pest Management (CIPM) project. Located on the campus of North Carolina State University in Raleigh, CIPM provides a variety of services including implementation, training, and public awareness for IPM at the state, regional, and national levels. However, the current funding climate is perceived as particularly competitive with limited resources in which any increase in funding for IPM/EBPM programs would likely result in decreased funding in some other program in the agricultural research arena. The suggestion was made that much could be learned from other countries, particularly from European countries that have developed large-scale and widely used model IPM systems, as a template for developing the political and social infrastructure for such a network for the United States. The discussion groups explored a number of institutional factors that were perceived to inhibit EBPM research. The participants identified the current structure and organization of disciplines and departments within research universities and land grant colleges as major factors. There was a call for some level of reorganization or integration of college and university degree programs in order to facilitate interdisciplinary degree opportunities for students who will eventually become researchers and pest managers. This would also allow cross-disciplinary researchers to develop a greater understanding of interactions among pests, particularly interactions between species that fall outside one traditional discipline (e.g., interactions between insects and birds) in an effort to better predict pest impacts in managed systems. Interdisciplinary degree programs would encourage the development of EBPM, and ideally lead to an emphasis on longer term funding cycles for grants that focus on long-term experimental systems. This approach would develop a more fundamental connection between acquiring knowledge in such systems and the implementation of the lessons gained from those experiments into managed systems.

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PROFESSIONAL SOCIETIES and Ecologically Based Pest Management: Proceedings of a Workshop CHALLENGES WITH EBPM IMPLEMENTATION When the discussion groups talked of the diversity of scale in American agriculture, they saw the feature as both an opportunity for a variety of research questions as well as a major challenge for applying principles of EBPM. The different commodities, the myriad of labor and ownership relationships on the farm, and the consumer market and demographics for farm products all have implications for the success of pest management strategies. It was obvious to the discussion groups that the heterogeneous nature of farming in this country makes any broad-scale approach complex and difficult to implement. Many questions arose during this portion of the discussion. For example, when looking at the marketplace or labor pool, are we going to include groups that, traditionally, are rarely considered in this process, such as lower income groups, minorities, and/or undocumented migrant workers? What kind of recruitment approaches do we use to make sure we have an inclusive approach in our education efforts? How conceptually different are the pest management strategies of a particular commodity, say between a high-value vegetable crop versus an extensively planted grain crop? It was noted that there should be more attention paid to the groups impacted by changes in pest management, such as farm workers and consumers. However, this concept generated more questions. How much consideration should there be of the economic consequences of EBPM implementation and of the demographics of the traditional consumer? Should we reduce or expand the current consumer base because of ecologically based considerations? Can the farmer afford to consider these options or even want to take the risk? The discussion turned to the financial institutions that lend money to farmers and subsequently influence the pest management strategies that are considered for each crop. Are these institutions aware of the options of pest management? Do they appreciate and consider IPM practice? Do they view the risk associated with practices in a proper manner? The same questions apply to the insurance companies that are now beginning to underwrite some of these practices. EBPM requires an effort in monitoring and measuring ecological impacts. For farmers to adopt and implement monitoring requires lobbying for more “green” programs that offer the farmer financial and political incentives to adopt ecologically sound pest management strategies. Can the current infrastructure of researchers, institutions, and advocates involved in IPM and EBPM move the policy makers into providing those incentives? COLLABORATIVE OPPORTUNITIES AND BENEFITS WITH PROFESSIONAL SOCIETIES FOR EBPM For professional societies, sponsoring joint symposia and meetings was identified as one way to stimulate and foster interdisciplinary study and interactions among students and researchers alike. The joint meeting between the Entomological Society of America and the American Phytopathological

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PROFESSIONAL SOCIETIES and Ecologically Based Pest Management: Proceedings of a Workshop Society in 1998 was viewed as a successful step in developing the kind of multidiscipline interaction between societies that will discern common goals and collaborative research opportunities for all involved. One suggestion that would facilitate interactions between societies would be to provide free or reduced cost space to encourage exhibitors from other societies to share their goals or research interests. From this idea, it was also suggested that a similar display opportunity be offered to new and small start-up companies that have EBPM/IPM products or services that members can consider, as a way to promote interdisciplinary approaches to research and the tools available for EBPM. Other approaches for collaboration among societies were suggested. One strategy called for a stakeholder roundtable, which involves bringing all the stakeholders together (e.g., the scientists and consumers) in an effort to forge a consensus. Public and private co-sponsorship could emerge and make recommendations reflecting common goals. These goals would likely reflect both the similarities and differences of the individual groups, but still manage to focus quite specifically on current important issues. This approach could also take advantage of university staff that are already in extension —that are already charged with delivering information to stakeholder groups. Another recommendation suggested working with society editorial boards to make sure the editors and, therefore, the whole review peer process understands interdisciplinary research, its value, and how to evaluate it in a publication format. This could enhance the dissemination of interdisciplinary studies as well as provide a tangible and acceptable measure of productivity for researchers in pursuit of tenure or promotion within their respective institutions. The 1996 NRC report, Ecologically Based Pest Management: New Solutions for a New Century, identified a list of needs and tools necessary to build interdisciplinary, ecological systems-based approaches to pest management. This workshop was the first step, and it brought together professional societies, researchers, and practitioners for discussion of EBPM. Professional societies are in a unique position to influence the direction and extent of research and implementation that can support ecologically based integrated pest management. The attendees from the workshop came away with a new appreciation for collaborations and partnerships, which should not be limited to scientists or professional societies. There was recognition that the interdisciplinary research required to further develop ecologically based integrated pest management should draw upon other interested organizations and groups, such as producers, input suppliers, nongovernmental organizations, as well as academic scientists. Due to diverse goals and expectations, the challenge will be putting this into practice. REFERENCE National Research Council. 1996. Ecologically Based Pest Management: New Solutions for a New Century . Washington, DC. National Academy Press.

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