Jun 17, 2021
California grants awarded for innovative projects reducing pesticide overreliance

California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) announced $524,946 in grants awarded for innovative research projects to reduce overreliance on pesticides.

The 2021 Pest Management Research Grants will fund four scientists and their teams who are furthering integrated pest management (IPM) strategies to control urban and farm pests. IPM emphasizes monitoring, trapping and biological controls as a first line of defense against pests, such as destructive bugs and germs, and a lower reliance on conventional chemical pesticides.

“DPR’s Research Grants and the work they fund are vital to our mission to protect human health and the environment,” said DPR Director Val Dolcini. “This money will fund cutting-edge research by some of the state’s top scientists specializing in pest management.”

The 2021 award recipients are Dr. Johanna Del Castillo, University of California, Davis; Dr. Kerry Mauck, UC Riverside; Dr. Chow-Yang Lee, UC Riverside; and Dr. Zheng Wang, of UC Agriculture Natural Resources (UCANR).

  • Castillo seeks to identify easily adopted practices for minimizing diseases in commercial-scale, vegetable-transplant nurseries, with the goal of lowering costs and decreasing use of chemicals. By creating a set of best practices, her team will also share the findings with production nurseries. Castillo will receive $87,986 for this project.
  • Mauck is exploring “plant immunity priming” in lettuce and melon production to stimulate plants’ natural defenses against plant-damaging viruses. This could reduce the need for pesticides to kill insects that spread the diseases and bolster crop production. Mauck’s project is receiving $216,967.
  • Lee is researching the use of sucralose – a common artificial sweetener – in baits to eliminate German cockroaches. If successful, sucralose could provide a safe, low-cost way to control common urban pests, which can spread disease. Lee’s project is receiving $110,938.
  • Wang is looking at methods to reduce fungal diseases in seedless watermelons by grafting resistant root systems onto plants and adding a bacterium – trichoderma – to the soil. This could reduce pesticide use, lower costs and increase yields. Wang will receive $109,055 for this project.

Since 2013, DPR has awarded more than $6.8 million in research grants to fund 31 projects. Since 2019, DPR has awarded an additional $2.34 million for research specifically to address chlorpyrifos alternatives. California ended most sales and uses of the pesticide chlorpyrifos in early 2020.

For more information on 2021 award recipients, past grant recipients and DPR’s grant programs, visit DPR’s Pest Management Grants webpage.

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