Penn State receives grants to study pesticide risk and honeybees

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded nearly half a million dollars in agricultural grants Jan. 8 for Integrated Pest Management (IPM) research to reduce the use of pesticides and lower risk to bees.

IPM relies on easy-to-implement, environmentally sensitive practices that prevent pests from becoming a threat. These practices involve monitoring and identifying pests and taking preventive action before pesticides are used. If pesticides are needed, methods such as targeted spraying may be used.

The Pennsylvania State University will receive $159,632 for a project to protect bees and crops by reducing reliance on neonicotinoid pesticide seed treatments and exploring the benefits of growing crops without them.

IPM in no-till grain fields will be used to control slugs and other pests that damage corn and soybeans.

The Louisiana State University received $167,874 for a project to minimize impacts to bees from insecticides used in mosquito control. Practices and guidelines resulting from the project will be distributed to mosquito control districts and beekeepers throughout the U.S.

The University of Vermont received $131,758 for project to reduce pesticide use and improve pest control while increasing crop yields on 75 acres of hops in the Northeast.

The awardees will also develop and distribute outreach materials to help farmers adopt these practices.

The project’s goal is to reduce herbicide and fungicide applications by 50 percent while decreasing downy mildew, a plant disease.

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