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Integrated Pest Management

Helping Wisconsin Potato Growers Develop Reduced Risk Pest Management Program

Environmentally conscious consumers now can choose a potato that was grown in an environmentally friendly way. A cooperative effort by the University of Wisconsin, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), and the Wisconsin Potato Growers Association (WPGA) has developed “Healthy Grown” eco-labeled potatoes, a brand produced with Integrated Pest Management tactics using fewer harmful pesticides.

The Wisconsin eco-labeled potato effort has been supported by the following collaborative NIFA funding sources: the Risk Avoidance and Mitigation Program, the Potato Pest Management Grant Program, the Extension Integrated Pest Management Program, Hatch Research funds.

In 1996, the WWF and WPGA joined in a unique partnership to reduce the ecological effect of potato production in Wisconsin. The two organizations agreed to targets and timetables for the elimination of specific high-risk pesticides and industry-wide adoption of biologically based Integrated Pest Management systems. The IPM team at the University of Wisconsin has provided pertinent research, education, and information since the effort's inception, and formally became a partner in 1998.

Eco-labeling is an effective way to tell customers about the environmental impacts of selected products and the choices they can make. An eco-label makes the customer more aware of the environmental benefits of certain products. Other examples include recycled paper or toxic-free cleaning agents.

Potato growers must meet certification standards for their crops to earn the Healthy Grown eco-label. Some practices, such as crop rotation, are mandatory. Other practices are scored and added toward a minimum point total that must be achieved.

These practices revolve around reducing or eliminating the use of pesticides that have the greatest risk to birds, fish, and wildlife. The Wisconsin potato industry achieved a 25 percent reduction of pesticide toxicity in the production system from 1995 to 1999, based on the 11 high- risk pesticides targeted by the program.

 

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