UC ANR helps promote organic growing and reduction in pesticide and herbicide use, while maintaining effective disease suppression and protection from pests.
- Pruning back on fungicides: California growers control powdery mildew grapevine disease primarily with sulfur, which requires frequent application and can cause toxicity to plants and human health concerns. Growers can reduce these problems by implementing the UC-developed Powdery Mildew Risk Index (PMI), which helps pinpoint the best times to apply fungicides. Using local weather data in combination with the risk assessment, many growers have eliminated as many as three rounds of spraying under proper conditions.
- Soils improve when they take cover: Growers may be able to improve soil properties while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by incorporating “off-season” or intercrop cover crops in their crop rotation routine. Diversifying traditional crop rotations with cover crops can add organic matter to the soil and improve soil function and quality. In a multi-year study, UC ANR scientists demonstrated that cover crops on plots in the San Joaquin Valley increased soil carbon by an average of 4,000 pounds per acre after four years under standard tillage (preparation of soil), and by 4,456 pounds per acre in a conservation tillage or reduced-tillage system.