The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Texas A&M AgriLife Research have received $937,345 in grant monies from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture for integrated pest management work, according to a recent USDA news release announcing the successful grant projects.

The agency awarded a total of $16 million in grants nationally to support research and Extension activities across the U.S. that address critical integrated pest management needs, according to the release. The resources are meant to protect crops and livestock, ensure greater food security and effectively respond to other major societal challenges as stated in the release.

“Integrated pest management is a best-management strategy that utilizes any number of facets to control pests in the most effective, economical, yet environmentally friendly, ways available,” said Dr. Charles Allen, a grant recipient and AgriLife Extension entomology program leader/associate department head and statewide integrated pest coordinator at San Angelo.

“The announcement listed three funded grants at Texas A&M AgriLife in the Applied Research and Development Program,” Allen said. “One was to entomologist, Dr. Mike Brewer, AgriLife Research scientist at Corpus Christi who is working on sugarcane aphid on sorghum. Another was to Dr. Muthukumar Bagavathiannan in the department of soil and crop science at Texas A&M for work on glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth. A third was written by Dr. Mengmeng Gu, AgriLife Extension ornamental horticulturist at Dallas, who partnered with Dr. Mike Merchant, AgriLife Extension entomologist also at Dallas, and Erfan Vafaie, AgriLife Extension program specialist at Overton. They are working on an invasive insect that is attacking crape myrtle. The fourth grant is listed under the Extension Implementation Program and was the grant I wrote. It partially funds integrated pest management agents and program specialists’ salaries and travel.”

The Applied Research and Development Program grants and amounts are:

  • An AgriLife Research grant for $250,000. The project will include evaluating thresholds that guide insecticide use; determining principal natural enemies, their abundance and impact; screening reported resistance to pesticides; natural pest enemies; and communicating findings to growers and industry.
  • An AgriLife Research grant for $247,867 to include the development and delivery of a decision-support tool, known as the Palmer amaranth integrated management model, for demonstrating to growers, private industry and agency personnel, the benefits of adopting and the penalties for not adopting integrated pest management tactics on the management of Palmer amaranth.
  • An AgriLife Extension grant for $244,478 to include determining population dynamics of early stage crape myrtle bark scale across multiple growing seasons; determining the efficacy of different management strategies for crape myrtle bark scale infestations in landscapes and nursery container production; evaluating the pest’s feeding preference on different crape myrtle species and cultivars; and promoting awareness and disseminating integrated pest management control strategies.

The Extension Implementation Program grant, an AgriLife Extension grant for $195,000, will assist with applied research and Extension programming to solve pest-related problems in agriculture, home/landscape, school and urban settings, with an emphasis on information sharing, project evaluations and collaborator education.

To view the USDA announcement and the list of funded grants, go to: http://www.nifa.usda.gov/newsroom/news/2014news/10233_ipm_grants.html.

For more information on specific grants, go to: http://www.nifa.usda.gov/newsroom/news/2014news/10_23_crop_pro_pst_mgmt_grants.html.