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Pest and Disease Management

On an organic farm, you can no longer rely on pesticides and fungicides to control insects and diseases. On the other hand, you no longer have to use costly chemicals that have proven harmful the environment. And you also have a fairly large toolkit of practices and materials you can use to manage insects and pests.

Of course, it won't always be easy. In the humid East, for example, growing apples organically can be quite a challenge, though many skillful orchardists have succeeded. The basics of organic pest management involve building healthy soils to grow strong plants that can withstand pest pressure; encouraging beneficial insects by creating environments that attract them; selecting crop varieties that are resistant to pests and diseases; confusing and stressing pests; and using selected approved substances when necessary.

One of the fundamental tenants of organic farming is biodiversity, and a farm with a variety of crops--as opposed to uninterrupted miles of corn or soybeans--is naturally less vulnerable to insect pests. Not only that, but when pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals are eliminated, beneficial insects and microbes return to the fields and the soil, boosting your farm's pest-fighting capacity.

The resources below provide you with access to detailed information on how to put all of these strategies into action.

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Resource Listing
keyPest/Disease Management
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Organic IPM Pictorial Field Guide to Pests and Beneficialsota
The idea behind this field guide is to provide a pictorial guide to the concepts of organic IPM and important pests and beneficials. The focus of...
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California Conference Features Non-Proprietary Approaches to Pest Control and Organic Productionota
Find out about a conference showcasing lots of promising research on biofumigants, beneficial insects, parasite-suppressing soils, habitat...
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Managing Pests and Weeds without Pesticides: Fact Sheets from the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticidesota
This web page features dozens of fact sheets on specific strategies to manage ants, aphids, codling moths, fruit flies, lacewings .... a whole...
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Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides Sustainable Ag Programota
NCAP's sustainable agriculture program focuses on working with farmers to create healthier farms and foods. They study, demonstrate and promote...
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Soybeans: Asian Soybean Rust: Notes and Organic Control Options for Farmersota
Asian Soybean Rust is a fungal disease that can affect native, edible and forage legumes. It was first detected in the U.S. in 2004 and is...
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Use of Baking Soda as a Fungicideota
There has been considerable interest in the use of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate, NaHCO3) and potassium bicarbonate (KHCO3) to control powdery...
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Vegetables: Flea Beetle--Organic Control Optionsota
This publication focuses on organic control of flea beetles, one of the more serious vegetable crop pests. Cultural and biological options are...
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Vegetables: Squash Bug and Squash Vine Borer: Organic Controlsota
Squash bug and squash vine borer are major pests among cucurbits. This publication addresses organic control methods for these pests. The life...
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Agroecology and the Search for a Truly Sustainable Agriculture
This book, in an online PDF format, was written by well-known agroecologist Miquel Altieri. It outlines principles and strategies for designing...
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An Online Guide to Plant Disease Control from Oregon State University Extension
This site contains the alphabetical (A to Z) text sections of the 2006 Pacific Northwest Plant Disease Management Handbook. It provides...
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ATTRA's Sustainable Disease, Weed, & Pest Management Resource Page
This rich collection of articles from the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service covers a wide range of topics on disease, insect and...
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Biodiversity and Pest Management in Agroecosystems, 2nd Edition
Completely updated for 2004, this new edition of the classic book by Miguel Altieri and Clara Nicholls examines methods for making agricultural...
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Biological Control Resources from Growing Small Farms, a Web Site of the Chatham County Cooperative Extension Center in North Carolina
This web page provides links to information on biological pest control in North Carolina, including biocontrol in greenhouses, application of...
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Biological Control: A Guide to Natural Enemies in North America, from Cornell University
This online guide provides photographs and descriptions of biological control (or biocontrol) agents of insect, disease and weed pests in North...
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Biorationals: Ecological Pest Management Database
This online pest management tool for farmers is a database that highlights reduced risk materials that can be integrated with ecological pest...
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Entomology on World-Wide Web
An exhaustive A to Z listing of entomology web sites, compiled by L. B. Bjostad, Colorado State University.
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Farmscaping to Enhance Biological Control of Pests
This publication contains information about increasing and managing biodiversity on a farm to favor beneficial organisms, with a focus on...
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HortIPM: Integrated Pest Management for Commercial Nursery/Floral Crop Producers in Texas
This site provides educational information on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for commercial nursery/floral crop producers. It is jointly...
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How to Manage Pests, from University of California's Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program
A rich database of pest and pest management information, organized by crop type. Each crop connects to dozens of articles covering specific pests,...
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Insect Biocontrol Lab at Beltsville Agricultural Research Center in Maryland
The Beltsville Center is part of the Agricultural Research Service of the USDA. They conduct research into biological controls, develop products,...
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Manage Insects on Your Farm: A Guide to Ecological Strategies
While every farming system is unique, the principles of ecological pest management apply universally. "Manage Insects on Your Farm" highlights...
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Managing Insects and Disease Damage Under an Organic System
A 3-page fact sheet from the University of West Virginia that covers the basic principles of organic insect and disease management.
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Managing Insects on Your Farm: A Guide to Ecological Strategies
An excellent general resource on how ecologically based pest management works--the basic principles of diversity, habitat management, encouragement...
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Organic Pest Management Overview: A Power PointPresentation from Kansas State University
Offers a very easy to digest overview of organic pest management strategies.
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Organic Vegetable Disease Management
Disease management is all about prevention--it's easier to stop a disease from getting started than it is to manage it once it starts spreading....
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Penn State Agronomy Guide 2005-2006: Organic Crop Production--Weed, Insect and Disease Management
This online guide book covers pest, insect, weed and disease management in organic systems. The book addresses biological, cultural, physical,...
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Resource Guide for Organic Insect and Disease Management, from Cornell University
Are you an organic grower faced with spots on your tomatoes, holes in your cabbage, and wilt in your pumpkin vines? Do you wonder whether your...
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Suppliers of Beneficial Organisms in North America
Suppliers of Beneficial Organisms in North America is a publication of Cal/EPA's Department of Pesticide Regulation. It lists 143 commercial...
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Sustainable Management of Soil-Borne Plant Diseases
Soil-borne diseases result from a reduction of biodiversity of soil organisms. Restoring beneficial organisms that attack, repel, or otherwise...
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The Center for Biological Control at University of California, Berkeley
The Center for Biological Control's mission is to facilitate the implementation of biological control through research, training and outreach...
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The EPA's Biopesticides Web Page
This web page features the latest information and news on biopesticides, with factsheets on individual biopesticide products and active ingredients.
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University of California's Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program
This web site features publications and advice on how to manage pests, including incredibly detailed management guidelines for dozens of crops, and...
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VegEdge, a Vegetable IPM Resource for the Midwest, from the University of Minnesota
The purpose of this site is to provide timely, objective information about all aspects of vegetable crop integrated pest management (IPM), with...
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Annual Conference on Biological Control of Insects, Weeds and Diseases, Sponsored by The Center for Biological Control at UC-Berkeley
Go to the Center's web site and look for information on the conference, held in California every July. The conference features an excellent set of...
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Annual Sustainable Agriculture Pest Control Advisor Conference, Sponsored by California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF)
Held in December in California, this conference features innovative pest management practices for sustainable agriculture. Learn about tools for...
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Apples: All About Organic Orcharding, Insights and Information from Michael Phillips
Michael Phillips is a well-known New England organic apple grower who's written several books on the topic. His Lost Nation Orchard web site...
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Apples: Apple Disease Control Alternatives
Sooty blotch and flyspeck are fungal diseases that can reduce the economic value of fresh market apples. While these diseases don't affect yield or...
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Apples: Beneficial Insect Habitat in an Apple Orchard and its Effects on Pests
Apple orchards attract many kinds of insects that damage vegetation and fruit. But these orchard pests have insect enemies of their own. Growers...
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Apples: Disease Management Guidelines for Organic Apple Production in Ohio
This a very detailed look at all the major apple diseases and how to manage them organically--from early season diseases to late season diseases.
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Apples: Effect of Organic Pest Management Practices on Apple Productivity and Apple Food Safety
Research was conducted at Iowa State University in 2000 to determine the effect of organic pest management techniques on pest control, apple...
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Apples: Holistic Disease Management in Apples: Things Our Mothers Never Told Us About Fungus in the Orchard
A thoughtful look at how to prevent disease in organic orchards, from author and orchardist Michael Phillips of Vermont.
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Apples: Insect IPM in Apples -- Kaolin Clay
This factsheet is part of a series highlighting the latest breakthroughs in biorational pest control. This factsheet looks at the use of kaolin...
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Apples: Michigan State's Organic Apple Spray Program
This Michigan State University site contains information on organic disease control for apples.
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Apples: Organic and Low-Spray Apple Production
This publication surveys information appropriate to organic and low-spray apple production, drawing on recent research and producer experience....
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Berries: Monitoring and Control of Mummy Berry in Blueberries
This fact sheet describes this fungal problem for blueberries, and outlines how to control the disease, including organic options.
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Bio-Rational Pesticides for insect Management, from the University of Massachusetts
A description of various biological controls for management of insects, from the New England Vegetable Management Guide.
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Biointensive Integrated Pest Management: The Basics
This publication provides the rationale for biointensive Integrated Pest Management (IPM), outlines the concepts and tools of biointensive IPM, and...
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Biological Control and Integrated Pest Management Information from the University of Florida's Online Publications Database
This extraordinary collection of online publications includes hundreds of articles and fact sheets on biological control of insects, diseases and...
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Biological Control for Insect Management in Strawberries, from University of Florida
Integrated pest management (IPM) is a holistic approach to pest control in which different practices are implemented even before planting the crop....
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Biological Control Information Center at North Carolina State University
A very easy to use web site with information on how to use biological controls to manage pests, where these controls can be used, and a listing of...
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Biological Control of Plant Pathogens: Research, Commercialization, and Application in the USA
In a narrow sense, biocontrol suppresses pest organisms with other organisms. However, the multiple interactions among organisms and their...
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Blueberries: Organic Small Fruit Disease Management Guidelines: Integrated Management of Blueberry Diseases
Disease management strategies are very similar for both organic and conventional small fruit production systems in the Midwest. In both systems it...
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Botanicals for Insect Management, from North Carolina State University
A review of several botanicals effective in managing insects.
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Bug Vacuums for Organic Crop Protection
Field vacuuming is a novel concept for pest management in organic cropping systems. Though heavily promoted, it has not been widely adopted. This...
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Complete Guide to Pest Control With and Without Chemicals
Complete Guide To Pest Control is intended to present a comprehensive picture of major pests and their management in and around the home, garden,...
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Crop Insurance and Asian Soybean Rust, with Information for Organic Growers
This power point presentation, based on workshop, addresses the critical farm-risk management issues impacting US soybean producers threatened by...
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Cucumber Beetles: Organic and Biorational IPM
Cucumber beetles are present throughout the U.S. and are one of the most serious pests on cucurbits in many areas. The overwintering adult insect...
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Deer Control Options
This publication suggests various management practices to help prevent or control damage by deer to field crops, orchards, landscapes and gardens....
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Determining the Efficacy of Disease Management Products in Organically-Produced Tomatoes
Sixteen disease control products or product combinations used in organic production systems were tested for efficacy against tomato diseases....
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Disease Picture Archive for Vegetable Growers
While this disease management page from the University of Massachusetts provides information that is skewed toward the conventional, it does...
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Downy Mildew Control in Cucurbits
This publication discusses cultural controls and alternative pesticides that can be used in control of downy mildew, a destructive disease of...
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Entomological Society of America Web Site Hosts Rich Resources on Insect Pest Management,
The Society's web site features a database of insects, a listing of books, journals and newsletters published by the society, and other resources...
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Fruit Disease Resources at the Ohio State University
This web site features a collection of guidelines on organic small fruit disease management, by fruit. It also has a disease management guideline...
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Fruit: Disease and Insect Control Programs for Homegrown Fruit in Kentucky, Including Organic Alternatives
This factsheet from the University of Kentucky, while written for homegrown fruit, is applicable to small-scale commercial production.
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Fruit: Visual Gallery of Images of Tree Fruit Insect Pests in the Mid-Atlantic Region
Images of insect pests for apple, peach, cherry and pear trees in the Mid-Atlantic region, from West Virginia University.
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Fruits: Visual Gallery of Images of Tree Fruit Diseases in the Mid-Atlantic Region
Images of diseases of apples, peaches and cherries in the Mid-Atlantic region, from West Virginia University.
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Grapes: Organic Small Fruit Disease Management Guidelines: Integrated Management of Grape Diseases, from Ohio State University
Developing a disease management program that successfully controls all of the important grape diseases simultaneously presents a unique challenge....
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Grasshopper Management
Although grasshoppers are difficult to control, their impact can be minimized by preventive management over the long term. This publication...
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Greenhouse IPM: Sustainable Aphid Control
This publication summarizes IPM for greenhouse aphids on both vegetable and ornamental crops. Focus is on monitoring, sanitation, biological...
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Greenhouse IPM: Sustainable Thrips Control
This publication summarizes IPM for greenhouse thrips on both vegetable and ornamental crops. Monitoring, biological controls, biorational...
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Greenhouse IPM: Sustainable Whitefly Control
This publication focuses on integrated pest management for greenhouse whitefly on both vegetable and ornamental crops. It is designed to complement...
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High Plains Integrated Pest Management Guide for Colorado, Western Nebraska, Wyoming, and Montana
This online guide is intended to provide current effective management options for insect and other arthropod pests, and for plant pathogens...
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Identifying Natural Enemies in Crops and Landscapes
This guide is divided into sections by major groups of natural enemies and spiders: beetles, true bugs, lacewings, predatory flies, parasitoids,...
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Insect and Disease Management in Organic Crop Systems, from Manitoba, Canada
A good overview of techniques for avoiding problems, for managing the growth environment, and for direct treatment of pests.
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Insect Parasitic Nematodes: Tools for Successful Insect Control
This web site, from Ohio State University, provides information on using nematodes as biological controls, has a photo gallery, includes a list of...
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Insect Pest Management for Organic Crops
A review of cultural, biological and mechanical controls for pests in organic cropping systems., from the University of California at Davis.
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Insect Pest Picture Archive for Vegetable Growers
While this insect management page from the University of Massachusetts provides information that is skewed toward the conventional, it does provide...
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Integrated Crop Management, from Iowa State University
A rich set of resources on integrated management of plant diseases, insects and weeds, with applications for organic growers.
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Invasive Species Ecology and Biological Control Lab at Michigan State University
The lab focuses on the ecology and management of invasive species in natural and managed ecosystems. Research themes include understanding the...
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IPM Guide from Texas A&M University
This guide covers biocontrol products, pest management strategies, and advice on sampling and monitoring for pests and their natural enemies.
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IPM Scouting and Decision Making
A regular monitoring program is the basis of IPM decision making, regardless of the control strategies used. By regular monitoring, a scout is able...
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Managing Aphids; Advice from University of Massachusetts
This fact sheet walks through identification of aphids, the damage they do, their biology, detection and monitoring, preventive strategies and...
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Natural Enemies of Vegetable Insect Pestsfee
This manual is intended to be an educational tool, providing the reader with the necessary information to appreciate the concept and practice of...
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Nematodes as Biological Control Agents of Insects
Nematodes are usually considered pests because of the diseases they cause in humans and animals and the economic impact they have on many...
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Nematodes: Alternative Controls
This publication provides general information the tiny worm-like organisms called nematodes. It contains a detailed description of the genera of...
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New Mexico Plant Disease Testing Facility
New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension plant diagnostic and plant pathology lab. * Nematode Testing * Disease Identification
New Mexico Specialist in Organic Product, Biological Pest Control
Dr. Joe Ellington, Professor of Entomology, New Mexico State University * Organic production * Biological control
New York State IPM Fact Sheets from Cornell University
Dozens of fact sheets on specific pests, organized by type of crop--field crops, vegetables, berries, grapes, tree fruits, nursery and greenhouse,...
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Northeast Integrated Pest Management Center
The broad mission of the NE IPMC is to provide all people who make decisions related to IPM with appropriate and reliable information so that they...
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Organic Pest Control, Resources Provided by The Idaho Association of Soil Conservation Districts
Provides a listing of approved and prohibited materials for control of insects, weeds and diseases.
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Organic Vegetable Production and Marketing in the Southfee
This new educational tool with Alex Hitt of Peregrine Farm is packed with valuable information to help vegetable farmers with their enterprises....
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Peaches: Integrated Pest Management of Peach Crops in Alabama, from Auburn University
While not focused on organic growers, this collection of resources does provide valuable information on management of diseases and pests for...
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Pest Management in Organic Field Crops, from NC State University
A detailed overview of organic management of weeds, pests and diseases for field crops. The insect management section covers how to management...
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Plant Disease Management for Organic Crops, from UC-Davis
Strategies for preventing and managing diseases in organic crops, including choice of cultivars, site selection, contamination avoidance, cultural...
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Plant Pest Diagnostic Lab in Utah
Plant Pest Diagnostic Lab at Utah State University
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Potatoes: Biological Amendments and Crop Rotations for Managing Soil Microbial Communities and Soilborne Diseases of Potato
Active management of soil microbial communities is a promising approach to suppress soilborne diseases and improve crop productivity. The goal of...
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Potatoes: Columbia Root-knot Nematode Control in Potato Using Crop Rotations and Cover Crops
The Columbia root-knot nematode (Meloidogyne chitwoodi) attacks potatoes and causes injury to tubers in the Columbia Basin of Oregon and Washington...
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Potatoes: Organic Alternatives for Late Blight Control in Potatoes
New strains of late blight have emerged in recent years, making potato production especially challenging. Several nonchemical options are available...
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Potatoes: Organic Control Options for Colorado Potato Beetle
Colorado potato beetle is the most economically important pest of potatoes in most areas of the United States. This publication discusses cultural...
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Potatoes: Using Mustard Greens in Place of Fumigants to Manage Parasitic Nematodes and Verticillium Wilt in Potatoes
To address widespread concerns about pesticide contamination in Idaho's Fort Hall Indian Reservation wells, NRCS, the Shoshone-Bannock Tribal...
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Raspberries: Organic Management of Raspberry Root Rot
Research from Washington State University
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Resource Guide for Organic Insect and Disease Management
This excellent online guide, also available in print, covers basic crop management practices for different types of crops, and has fact sheets on...
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Soybeans: Organic Bean Leaf Beetle Management
Organic farmers use multiple tactics for bean leaf beetle management. Soybean seed is not planted until soils are sufficiently warm to permit rapid...
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Soybeans: Organic Control of White Mold on Soybeans
White mold has become a serious pest in commercial soybean production—especially where intensive production techniques are used. This publication...
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The Association of Natural Biocontrol Producers
The Association of Natural Biocontrol Producers (ANBP) is a professional association representing the biological pest management industry....
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The Biological Control Laboratory at Purdue University
Purdue’s biological control research examines basic and applied aspects of the impact of natural enemies on pest dynamics in several crop...
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The Influence of Organic Transition Systems on Beneficial Ground-Dwelling Arthropods and Predation of Insects and Weed Seeds
The influence of farm management practices on ground-dwelling natural enemy communities and predation of insects and weed seeds was investigated...
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Thrips Management Alternatives in the Field
Thrips attack a number of vegetable, fruit, and flower crops, causing considerable economic damage. Their population levels may be monitored using...
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Tiny Wasps Help Keep Sweet Corn Worm-free and Customers More Satisfied
"Clean" sweet corn is not easy to grow, but organic and no- or low-spray growers are successfully dealing with potential pest infestations using...
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Tomatoes: Disease Management in Organic Tomatoes
Research from Ohio State University.
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University of Arizona Page on Pesticide Alternatives
This page, while not directed at organic growers, does provide resources of value on integrated pest management.
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University of New Hampshire Plant Diagnostic Laboratory
The UNH Plant Diagnostic Lab (UNH-PDL) is a diagnostic facility funded by UNH Cooperative Extension. The diagnostic services offered by the UNH-PDL...
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Use Crop Rotation and Plant Diversity To Control Insects
Crop rotations can work well for pests that are relatively nonmobile, that feed on specific crops, and that overwinter in the soil as eggs or...
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Utah Sustainable Pest and Orchard Management Specialist
Diane Alston State Extension Entomology Specialist Associate Professor: Department of Biology ‡ State Integrated Pest Management...
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Vegetables: Cornell Integrated Crop and Pest Management Guidelines for Commercial Vegetable Production
This online guidebook, 28 chapters long, covers the basics of integrated pest management strategies and tactics, looks at disease, insect and weed...
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Vegetables: Fresh Market Growers Share Pest Management Strategies
The results of a survey of market farmers in Wisconsin on strategies they use for pest management.
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Vegetables: Organic Vegetable IPM Guide from Mississippi State University
This guidebook covers: fertilizer for organic vegetable production, organic disease management, organic weed control, insect and mite control, and...
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Winter Annual Weed and Early Spring Insect Control Using Propane Flaming in Dormant Alfalfa
Winter annual weeds and early spring insects are common pests of alfalfa, Medicago sativa, grown along the Front Range of Colorado. Winter annual...
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