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Cranberry Farms Learn to Grow More, Spray Less

Release Date: 09/18/2006
Contact Information: Rich Cahill (212) 637-3666, cahill.richard@epa.gov

(New York, NY) You don’t have to douse cranberries in pesticides to control pesky bugs and diseases, as U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg learned today when he visited a cranberry farm in Chatsworth, New Jersey and saw firsthand how Rutgers University agricultural experts are teaching growers to reduce their use of pesticides while harvesting a bumper crop. Cranberries are one of the top valued crops in New Jersey, which ranks fourth in cranberry acres harvested, behind Wisconsin, Massachusetts and Oregon, with an annual $14 million crop.

“Pilot agricultural projects like this prove that being a good environmental steward does not mean sacrificing the bottom line,” said EPA Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg. “Protecting the environment can go hand in hand with sustaining a key sector of the economy. New Jersey needs its cranberries and it needs to protect its environmentally-sensitive areas like the Pinelands. Solutions like the ones we saw today allow us to do both.”

Rutgers is using a $96,200 EPA grant for a two-year project to explore more novel, reduced-risk methods for controlling pests in cranberry production. The Rutgers University Blueberry and Cranberry Research and Extension Center is working with state and county organizations and five farms in Burlington County to identify cost-effective ways to monitor pests and track the impacts of reduced chemical pesticides on species in cranberry fields while measuring and recording the amounts of insecticides used. Two other farms in Chatsworth, one in Tabernacle and one in Browns Mills, are participating in the demonstration project.

The project is part of EPA’s overall efforts to promote integrated pest management (IPM) practices, protect public health and reduce non-point source pollution in ecologically sensitive watershed areas and reduce farm worker exposure to pesticides. Integrated pest management relies on a combination of common-sense practices to reduce the use of harmful chemicals on crops. IPM programs use the latest information on the life cycles of pests and their interaction with the environment. This information, in combination with available pest control methods, is used to manage pest damage by the most economical means, and with the least possible hazard to people, property and the environment. To find out more about Integrated Pest Management, visit EPA’s Web site at: http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/factsheets/ipm.htm

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