OSU helps reduce pesticides in Oregon waterways

John Day River
Pesticide use has plummeted in Wasco County thanks to OSU outreach. (Photo: Gary Halvorson, Oregon State Archives)

OSU's Integrated Plant Protection Center helps growers minimize use of chemicals

Lack of access among growers to the latest technology, weather information and research about pesticides can lead them to apply more chemicals than needed at the wrong times. Carried by wind, rain and floods, these chemicals can then move from crops into waterways and damage fragile ecosystems as they float downstream.

With the help of OSU's Integrated Plant Protection Center, Oregon growers now have access to sophisticated websites that map pest whereabouts, software that suggests the best times to spray based on weather, and improved information to assess pesticide risks. As a result, pesticides in some Oregon streams have fallen dramatically over the last decade. In Wasco County, growers use weather stations to spray under ideal wind conditions. They also direct aerial spraying farther away from creeks. Detections of malathion, a common pesticide, dropped 82 percent in the Wasco watershed between 2010 and 2012 despite higher use to combat the spotted wing drosophila, a new fruit-damaging fly. In 2013, Wasco County farmers used 57 percent fewer pesticide applications than the year before. Farmers are also spraying fewer pesticides per acre and are using other less toxic products more often. Testing by the OSU Extension Service found that organophosphates in the Hood River watershed and the Walla Walla River have dropped by more than 90 percent since 2006, when monitoring began. In addition, no chlorpyrifos insecticide residue has been detected since 2010 in the Hood River watershed.

Sources: Paul Jepson, IPPC director; Jeff Jenkins, Extension specialist at the IPPC

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