Last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced this year’s awardees for its National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) pest management grants. These 25 grants, totaling $9.4 million, will fund research and outreach projects dedicated to exploring new ways of combating agricultural pests. Since 2014, NIFA’s Crop Protection and Pest Management Program (CPPM) and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program have awarded over $64.5 million to researchers.
What goals does this USDA research have?
The purpose of this grant series is to develop pest management methods that are both more effective and safer for humans and the environment. In addition to finding new scientific approaches, scientists are also dedicated to evaluating the effectiveness of existing strategies. Research sponsored by NIFA plays a major role in establishing best practices for the pest control industry, informing local pest control companies. Since 2009, USDA grants have led to 883 filed patent applications, 405 issued patents, and 1,151 invention disclosures.
Why is pest management research so important?
Despite hundreds of years of pest control innovation, these bugs and rodents still pose a major threat to human health and financial security. New research looks for ways to solve these issues and more:
- Agricultural pests lose billions in revenue for the US every year. Some developing countries face a loss of as much as a quarter of their gross national products.
- Pest control is also a public health issue. For example, mosquitoes transmit a wide range of dangerous pathogens, costing the world further billions annually to treat. Household pests, such as roaches, can also make us sick by contaminating food with bacteria.
- Certain insects, including termites and carpenter ants, destroy homes and other property.
- While newer pest control methods are more targeted, older pesticides often have harmful side effects for humans and animals.
- Many pests have also developed some level of resistance to existing pesticides, making infestations more difficult to get rid of.
What research projects are underway?
The grants funded last month include the following exciting research:
- The University of Minnesota is using unmanned aerial vehicles to detect soybean pests.
- Pennsylvania State University hopes to apply their new nanotube technology for earlier diagnosis of many pest infestations.
- Washington State University is developing integrated pest management strategies for hops, a growing industry often overlooked.
Where can I find the best pest control companies near me?
Past federal agricultural research and innovations inform current pest control practices, but not all companies stay informed. If you’re looking for effective, science-based pest management for your home or business, contact your local Preventive Pest Control branch today.