At the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association Sustainable Agriculture Conference, in Durham, North Carolina, November 5-7, I facilitated a Farmer Round Table on Working Through Production Challenges. I started the event by providing stickers and asking participants to fix them on a chart, which had a circle divided into 16 segments, labeled Land & Space; Weather; Capital, Infrastructure & Equipment; Time Use & Planning; Quantities; Prioritizing; Labor; Crops & Varieties; Planting; Weeds & Pests; Harvest, Wash & Pack; Contingency Plans; Learning; Resources; Support; and Other Stuff.
I asked people to use red or pink stickers for their three worst production challenges, orange or yellow for their next worst, and green or blue for topics where they had once had a problem, and have since found a solution. (The reason for the varying colors is that I didn’t know how many people would be there, and used stickers I had on hand!)
Honestly, we could have made a full-day workshop, trying to cover all the challenges! Apologies to the people whose problems never got mentioned out loud.
We started with the category of Weeds and Pests as that had the most red and pink stickers, and spent a bit of time towards the end on labor challenges and a tiny bit of time on solutions that people had found to various problems. In fact, we spent most of the workshop talking about insect pests, from nematodes up by size, through flea beetles to potato beetles, Japanese beetles and harlequin bugs.
To make up for weed and pest management topics we didn’t get to, here are some updated resources from my first book, Sustainable Market Farming. This will also be useful to owners of my book, (as the links are now 9 years old), and anyone else looking for pest, weed and disease biological management.
Resources on Plant Diseases
Why Things Bite Back, Edward Tenner. See the chapter on vegetable pests, accidentally introduced weeds and deliberately introduced exotics to better understand the “revenge of unintended consequences.”
Identifying Diseases of Vegetables, Pennsylvania State University. Good photos and symptom lists.
Elaine Ingham’s Soil Food Web
University of Massachusetts Vegetable IPM Guidelines
Environmental Protection Agency Biopesticides Page
Damping Off Diseases Tom Clothier (not organic)
University of Illinois Extension, Vegetable Seed Treatment. The first two pages describe hot water treatment for killing diseases on seeds. After page 3, it’s not organic.
Mushroom Mountain, information and mycorrhizal fungi granules for plant roots:
Resources on Sustainable Weed Management
Manage Weeds on Your Farm: A Guide to Ecological Strategies, Charles Mohler, John Teasdale and Antonio DiTommaso, published by Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE). Includes profiles of many, many weeds. $24 or free (large) download
eOrganic Weed Management Topics
The University of Maine Quackgrass Management on Organic Farms
Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS), Weed Management on Organic Farms
University of Illinois, Managing Weed Seedbanks in Organic Farming Systems,
I’ve lost track of a wonderful document based on pictures and charts (see the earthworm snag the weed seed on page 52!): here’s an old link: www.mosesorganic.org/attachments/research/10forum_weeds.pdf
Oregon State: Biological Control of Weeds
SARE, Vinegar as an Organic Herbicide in Garlic Production, Fred Forsburg, 2004 project
Resources on Sustainable Pest Management
Garden Insects of North America, Whitney Cranshaw
Farmscaping Techniques for Managing Insect Pests, Brinkley Benson, Richard McDonald and Ronald Morse
Farmscaping with Dr McBug, Richard McDonald
Cornell Organic IPM
eOrganic Insect Management in Organic Farming Systems has many useful short articles on specific facets.
ATTRA Organic IPM Field Guide an attractive 9 page poster format introductory document.
Cornell University New York State Vegetable IPM Resources
NRCS Conservation Practice Standard 595 – 1 Integrated Pest Management
SARE Handbook, Manage Insects on Your Farm: A Guide to Ecological Strategies:
SARE Handbook Building Soils for Better Crops
Cornell University Resource Guide for Organic Insect and Disease Management
Cornell University Biological Control: A Guide to Natural Enemies in North America
Beneficial insects and other IPM resources, BioControl Network, TN
University of Kentucky listing Vendors of Beneficial Organisms in North America