Fresh fruits in an open marketThe California Department of Pesticide Regulation has released its roadmap for the state to transition to Sustainable Pest Management (SPM) by 2050. The plan was developed by Members of the Sustainable Pest Management Work Group and Urban Subgroup in collaboration with California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR), the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), and the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA).

Here at Fruit Growers Supply, it’s part of our mission to support everyone in agriculture, particularly the growers of California who help feed the nation. We want to ensure you have the information you need to make the best decisions for your operations and help you prepare for the future. So, we went through the roadmap to parse your need-to-know information and answer some questions that probably come to mind.

What Is The Roadmap?

The roadmap is a 97-page document detailing how California can accelerate the transition away from a group of high-risk pesticides towards adopting safer, more sustainable pest control practices. It’s a holistic approach that addresses impacts on communities, equity, environmental issues, and economic benefits.

The Sustainable Pest Management Work Group consists of 29 leaders from a diversity of interest areas, who are seeking to, according to the Executive Summary, “minimize reliance on the use of toxic pesticides and promote solutions that protect health and safety, are agronomically and economically sound,…and promote collaboration toward safe, sustainable pest management practices in production agriculture.” In addition, the Urban Subgroup represents the estimated 35-55% of pesticide sales and 65-75% of pesticide-related illnesses associated with urban pesticide use and impact. The workgroup has representatives from farms and ranches, pest control companies, the Almond Board of California, UC Berkley’s School of Public Health, and Agricultural Commissioners, among other interests.

What Is Sustainable Pest Management?

If you’ve been keeping up with our blog, you’re already familiar with the concept of Integrated Pest Management (IPM), which is a broad toolbox of science-based management techniques to protect your crops from unwanted pests and diseases. It utilizes biological, cultural, physical, and chemical tools to protect your crops and minimize risks to human health and the environment. IPM is commonly implemented globally in row crop agriculture, orchards, urban environments, golf courses, residential properties, and managed environmental areas.

Sustainable Pest Management (SPM) is an elevated version of this approach, incorporating an ecosystem-based strategy that focuses on “long-term prevention of pests through a combination of techniques such as biological control, habitat manipulation, modification of cultural practices, and use of resistant varieties. Pesticides are used only after monitoring indicates they are needed according to established guidelines.”

So, Will All Pesticides Be Banned?

The short answer is no, not all pesticides will be banned under this initiative. Instead, the roadmap targets “Priority Pesticides,” a subset of high-risk pesticides known to cause significant harm to people and the environment. Some of these Priority Pesticides are classified by California as groundwater or toxic air contaminants and products that are known carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, reproductive and development toxicants, and environmental toxicants that harm pollinators, birds, mammals, and fish that pesticide users are not targeting.

In the future, under this roadmap, select pesticides can be used in a way that minimizes risk to human health, the environment, and non-target organisms. Some keystone actions include improving the state’s pesticide registration process to make safer, more sustainable products available instead of certain high-risk pesticides. Under the new guidelines, pesticides would be used selectively after exhausting other options.

What Are The Goals?

The roadmap has two main goals. The first is to transition pest management practitioners across the state to an SPM model, eliminate Priority Pesticides, and adopt SPM as the standard pest management system statewide. The hoped-for outcome is that we can eliminate the adverse impacts of high-risk pesticides on people’s and the environment’s health.

Some critical actions to support the roadmap include preventing invasive pest species from becoming established in California, which the state already works diligently to accomplish, establishing SPM leadership across the state who can conduct research and outreach, and ensuring support and resources are available to all pest management practitioners who need to develop and implement their own SPM system. As a grower, you won’t be on your own to figure out a plan for yourself.

Helping Our Growers Succeed In The Future

These changes won’t take place overnight. This plan was just announced recently, and the public comment period remains open until March 13, 2023, at 5:00 p.m. The experts at Fruit Growers Supply are here to help growers like you thrive and adapt to changes in operations. After all, Fruit Growers Supply has provided growers with tools, tips, and advice for over a century. To learn more about how Fruit Growers Supply can be of service to your operations, use the contact form below to get in touch with us or give us a call or stop by one of our supply centers!






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