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Functional Ecology: A Catalyst for Change in Tree Fruit Integrated Pest Management

Grant Recipient:

Michigan State University

Project Period:

9/1/2003 - 8/31/2005

Principal Investigator:

Mark Whalon

Downloads:

mites as ecoindicators in MI tree fruit.pdf (63.6 KB)
EPAIPM MI Funct Eco Mark Whalon Aug 05.jpg (153.95 KB)

Description
This project develops and demonstrates a suite of ecological indicator indices that assess orchard health for cherry, apple, and peach growers. Ecological indicator indices provide a biotic metric for assessing transition toward a more sustainable perennial production system. This project develops and demonstrates these indices on 6 cherry, apple, and peach orchards over 2 years through the use of functional ecology workshops.

Project goals and objectives
The performance targets for this project are:

Of the 18 customers we will be working with:
- 12 will adopt at least one of the three ecological indicator(s), and 8 will adopt at least two of the indicators.

- 15 will achieve a statistically significant increase in understanding of functional ecology.

- 12 will modify their management practices in a manner that is more sustainable. Sustainability will be measured using the indicator models.

Outcomes
The functional ecology workshops developed under this grant to improve grower knowledge and understanding of orchard ecosystems, and specifically their understanding of the functional ecology models being developed, should be considered a success from the standpoint of presenting useful and important information to growers. Based on survey results from the workshops, nearly all scores for 2004 and 2005 revealed that growers found the workshops useful and important. In addition, scores increased from 2004-2005. However, the workshops were not as successful in increasing the confidence of growers to implement what they learned during the workshops.

Project Links
www.functional-eco.msu.edu

American Farmland Trust