Sustainable and Profitable Strategies for Integrated Pest Management in Southern Organic Rice
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Organic rice production has steadily increased in the U.S. over the last 20 years, with a majority of acreage being grown in the southern region. In contrast, conventional rice acreage has been declining. Farmers are seeking new ways to capture value-added markets like organic rice to sustain farming and their rural communities. Disease, weed and insect pests are among the primary factors threatening the expansion of the organic rice industry. We use an interdisciplinary approach that will help strengthen the foundations of organic rice production and aim at developing sustainable and profitable management strategies to minimize the losses caused by these pests. We will: 1) develop brassica biofumigation cover cropping system that reduces these pests; 2) develop improved cultivars/lines for organic systems that are of high yielding potential and resistant/tolerant to these pests; 3) identify effective seed treatment tools to reduce diseases and weeds and improve stand that include a high level of seeding rate and seed treatments with gibberellic acid and biocontrol agents; 4) identify profitable pest management strategies using partial budget analysis and develop interactive budgets that help producers manage input costs and increase economic returns; and 5) create a multistate outreach and extension program including stakeholder advisory board, on-farm demonstrations, and multiple dissemination means of information. As a result of this project, domestic organic rice production will be strengthened which will facilitate an expansion of the market.