BAE Seminar: Dr. Steve Fennimore, Tuesday, December 2, 1:10pm, 2045 Bainer Hall


Tuesday, December 2, 2014 
1:10 PM, 2045 Bainer Hall

Topic: "An expanded role for physical pest control in California vegetables & strawberry" 

Speaker: Dr. Steve Fennimore 
Extension Specialist and Weed Scientist, UC Davis 

The pest management needs of specialty crops like strawberry and vegetables differ greatly from those of the broad-acre crops like corn, soybean and wheat. Market size and regulatory requirements have resulted in the major agricultural pesticide and farm machinery manufacturers focusing solely on the broad-acre crops. The high per acre value of specialty crops discourages agricultural chemical companies from registering herbicides in these crops due to potential losses from litigation in excess of projected herbicide sales. However, recent advances in machine vision have allowed small companies in Europe and the USA to develop intermittent sprayers, and intra-row cultivators specifically for weed removal in vegetable crops. These technologies suggest an opening for businesses that focus on machines developed for pest management in specialty crops, and a growing role for engineers in the area of specialty crop pest management. 
Vegetable weed management programs have always been dependent upon hand weeding to produce a crop. However, recent farm labor shortages in California mean that alternatives for hand weeding are needed. There is little chance of reducing the need for hand weeding through increased development of vegetable herbicides. In contrast, machine vision guided inter-row cultivators and sprayers have the potential to greatly reduce the need for hand weeding in California vegetables. 

The California strawberry industry has been built upon methyl bromide fumigated soil into the $2 billion industry it is today. The phaseout of methyl bromide has increased dependence on other fumigants like chloropicrin and 1, 3-dicloropropene. None of these fumigants are very popular with the general public in California and political pressure has been building to reduce or eliminate them. One possible method of soil disinfestation is steam which is being evaluated as an alternative to fumigants. However, development of an efficient steam applicator specifically for California strawberry will require investment in engineering design and testing. 

Coffee and cookies will be served.