Pest Management

The educational materials listed on this page are about Pest Management.

Producers must control a wide range of insect, weed and disease pests that can disrupt the healthy growth of crops. Given increasing resistance to chemical control methods (including organic pesticides and natural pesticides) farmers are increasingly adopting multifaceted strategies to keep pests at bay. These strategies include the biological controls and cultural controls featured in integrated pest management (IPM) as well as traditional chemical and physical controls. Integrated pest management (IPM) uses a range of ecological strategies to prevent pest damage and resorts to the use of pesticides only when monitoring indicates such action is required to avoid economic loss. Whole farm pest management systems build upon the biological pest control approach of IPM systems by integrating ecological pest management practices into all aspects of crop production. Soil organic matter and nutrient management, tillage, crop rotation and field boundaries, borders and buffers all play an important role in both increasing crop pest resistance and reducing pest pressures. Weed control is a challenge on all types of farm operations. A successful weed management plan will vary depending on the type of operation and whether it is conventional or organic. Helpful practices in an integrated weed management plan may include chemical weed control (conventional and organic herbicides), the use of mulches (living mulch or cover crops, killed mulches, plastic mulch), tillage or cultivation, crop rotation, and more novel techniques such as soil solarization or using geese or goats for weed control.

SARE’s Manage Insects on your Farm addresses the principles of ecological pest management. A Whole Farm Approach to Managing Pests provides tips for designing whole-farm pest management solutions. Managing Cover Crops Profitably, Crop Rotations on Organic Farms and Steel in the Field also provide helpful insights into the roles cover crops, rotations and tillage can play in pest management.

Farmers need to understand disease management on the farm to employ effective plant disease control methods. Becoming familiar with crop diseases means utilizing myriad effective strategies to prevent and control diseases. Various integrated management practices control the spread of disease including biological control, physical control and cultural control. Chemical control may include synthetic fungicides, while organic producers rely on an organic fungicide or other natural fungicide to aid in crop protection. For example, disease management in tomatoes, which are susceptible to many diseases, includes the use of resistant cultivars, sanitation, sound cultural practices and fungicide for tomatoes. While there are many chemicals available for different crops, such as fungicide for grass or soybean fungicides, holistic or integrated approaches to disease management are also important tools for effective plant disease control. Key practices include integrated crop and livestock systemscrop rotation, utilizing disease resistant varieties and cultivarscultural controlbiological controlphysical controlchemical control, and prevention.

Rutgers student traces genetic trail of BMSB

Knowing that early detection is the most effective strategy to control invasive species, Rutgers University PhD student Rafael Valentin used his Northeast SARE Graduate Student grant to explore a technique using insect DNA to track the brown marmorated stinkbug (BMSB, Halyomorpha halys). Within the past 20 years, BMSB has become a devastating pest across the […]

Weed Weasel prototype provides weed cultivation options for small-scale farms

Weed management is crucial on vegetable farms of all scales but may be particularly challenging for small-scale farms as hand weeding is time consuming while tractor cultivation may not fit with smaller acreages. So, with his Northeast SARE Partnership grant, Jan “Lu” Yoder of Woodmetalcanvas in Westport, MA collaborated with local farmers to build, test […]

Beyond Black Plastic

This publication explores sustainable, organic mulches such as cover crops and no-till and reduced tillage systems as alternatives to black plastic mulch for weed control. The booklet includes a discussion of the impact of organic mulches on soil quality and fertility, weed control, yields and waste production, and profitability for small to mid-size vegetable operations. 

Control of Red-Headed Flea Beetles

Red-headed flea beetles have a wide host range including chrysanthemums, forsythia, hibiscus, lamb’s-quarter, pigweed,zinnia, sedum, asters, Salvia, roses, hollies among many others.

Control of Red-Headed Flea Beetles en Español

Esta plaga conocida como el “Red-headed Flea Beetle” tiene una variedad de plantas huéspedes que incluye los crisanthemos, Forsythia, los hibiscus, Zinnia, sedum, asters, Salvia, rosas, y los acebos por ejemplo.

New weed control tools for smaller farms

Weed control is an important issue on vegetable farms, and it can be particularly challenging on smaller farms that lack effective mechanization. This Partnership Grant addressed that issue and also leveraged a variety of other resources to study innovative tools that could have wide applicability to the many small vegetable farms in our region. The […]

Tackling the Thorny Issues, Linking Practitioners

As the ranks of organic farmers swell in America, so does the need for answers to tough problems in organic agriculture. For example, how can weeds be controlled without soil-eroding tillage? How can risk be minimized? How can farmers learn from one another? Thanks to researcher/educators like Anu Rangarajan of Cornell University, new and transitioning […]

Buckwheat Cover Crop Handbook

Buckwheat has been used to suppress weeds on Northeastern farms for 400 years. This handbook outlines how to use buckwheat as an economical weed-control tool, with recommendations based on extensive grower surveys, original research and on-farm trials.

NOFA Handbooks

A series of eight handbooks for new farmers or established producers seeking to transition to organic or improve their current practices. Print only; order from Chelsea Green.