Two successful organic producers were among those recently recognized for pest control innovation by California officials. The state's Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) announced recipients of its Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Innovator Awards last month, and among the awardees were Dixon Ridge Farms and Bonterra (Fetzer) Vineyards. I was delighted to see the two award winners featured again last week at the annual EcoFarm conference, a three-day gathering of thousands of organic growers, input providers, processors, distributors, academics, government agencies, non-profit organizations and eaters near Monterey, California.
Both the DPR awards and the EcoFarm conference highlight stories of farmers implementing multiple conservation strategies inextricably linked to one another — a hallmark of organic management practices and a healthy on-farm ecosystem. The elimination of hazardous pesticides not only benefits the health of workers and rural communities, it is also key to build biologically healthy soil. An active, healthy soil community in turn builds soil fertility and structure that can support vigorous crops resistant to pests and disease.
As a soil ecologist, I get excited when farmers' efforts to build healthy soil get the spotlight they deserve. Kudos to the soil-building innovators, and to DPR for highlighting their success.