Texas IPM Program, 2008 Friends of IPM Award Winner
Outstanding State IPM Program

Well-versed in integrated pest management methods, Texas grower Barney Pustejovsky relies heavily on his IPM agent from Texas AgriLife Extension Service and the Texas IPM Program to keep him up to date on new IPM technology. And he’s not alone. Growers, pest management professionals, crop advisors and many others frequently consult Texas IPM Program specialists and trust their advice. For their excellence in IPM research, extension and overall implementation, the Texas IPM Program received the 2008 Friends of IPM Award for Outstanding State IPM Program.

SRIPMC Associate Director Steve Toth presented the award during the 2008 Texas Pecan Growers Association Conference and Trade Show in Houston on July 15. Extension IPM Coordinator Dr. Tom Fuchs accepted the award for the IPM Program. Toth also presented two other Friends of IPM Awards: the IPM Teacher Award to Dr. Marvin Harris Professor of Entomology, Texas AgriLife Research, and Bill Ree, Extension Program Specialist; and the Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr. John Jackman, Professor of Entomology and Texas AgriLife Extension specialist (see Jackman’s profile in the spring issue).

A special award this year, the Outstanding State IPM Program award recognizes a statewide IPM program that has proven leadership and serves as a model for other programs. Recognized as one of the best IPM programs in the country, the Texas IPM program has mastered the concepts of collaboration and new technologies. The program employs 22 IPM “agents” for agricultural commodities and several urban IPM specialists. Each agent has his or her own Advisory Committee consisting of other Extension personnel, growers, agribusiness representatives and other agricultural leaders.

The program began in 1972 as a pilot program funded by the US Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS) to battle the tobacco budworm. The initial program employed four county entomologists to cover one quarter of the state. Their mission was to teach growers how to scout for pests and monitor their fields.

In 1994, under the new leadership of Extension specialist Tom Fuchs, the program began to transition from one that emphasized primarily scouting, economic thresholds and monitoring of pests and natural enemies to one that increasingly emphasizes evaluation of new IPM technologies and how that they best fit into local production systems.

“It’s not an entomological program; it involves the total production of a crop or commodity,” said Fuchs. “We look at IPM in a broad context. Almost all areas of crop production are involved, whether it’s agronomy, entomology, plant pathology, or weed science.”

Growers who have worked with the IPM program have seen consistent success. In 2006, 94 percent of Texas’ cotton producers surveyed said that IPM increased their net profits by an average of $34.24 per acre. Producers also put their money on the Extension education and demonstration program—at nearly $35 per acre. A majority of Texas growers say they use IPM methods because of what they’ve learned through the IPM Program and from consultants.

“Growers understand that these folks have their best interests at heart,” Fuchs said.

Fuchs and the other awardees accepted the awards amidst many of their peers and clients.

"I was very proud to be able to represent our AgriLife Extension team in accepting the Outstanding State IPM Program Award," Fuchs said. "This is the first time this award has been presented, so it is indeed an honor."