Barn Owls Consume Loads of Vertebrate Pests

Barn Owls for Integrated Pest Management

By Tim Hammerich with

Farmers have always turned to integrated pest management to control crop pests in both an economic and environmentally sustainable way. This includes vertebrate pests like gophers, voles, and mice.

Ryan Bourbour is a graduate student at UC Davis who studies what raptors eat in agricultural settings and during migration. One of the projects he is working on involves the use of barn owls for integrated pest management.

“Basically, if you have a pocket gopher problem or meadow vole or even mice. Barn owls are one of the most efficient hunters of those agricultural pests,” said Bourbour.  “So they’re cavity nesters, and they readily use artificial cavities for breeding and even roosting. So if you want to check barn owls to hunt on or near your property or, adjacent to a crop field, you can just install nest boxes, and as soon as they find them, they’ll readily use them.”

Depending on how many are already in your area, it could take a long time for them to find your new nest box. But they’ll stick around as long as they are finding plenty of food.

“A single nest will consume a little over 200 pounds of rodent prey each year. And I think in California vineyards it has been estimated, that a single nest will remove about 800 gophers, 600 voles, and over 1500 mice per year. Even just having barn owl activity on farms has been shown to reduce gopher activity, so less mounds, gophers are more vigilant, they won’t be as active,” he said.

Plus owls are just beautiful creatures to have around.

2020-03-05T21:11:42-08:00March 11th, 2020|

Greensmith APN Expanding Services

Greensmith APN Ensures the Best of Both Worlds for Biological Control

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor

Integrated Pest and Crop Management, otherwise known as IPM, is a critical component of all forms of crop production. Perhaps one of the most important aspects of IPM is the practice of biological control, which includes the control of any pests or invasive plants by using other organisms to monitor their populations.

Lee Tecklenburg of Greensmith APN (Advanced Plant Nutrition), works with both conventional and organic operations in order to help maximize biological control.

Greensmith APN is currently working to put together and market products that work simultaneously with biocontrols on the nutrient side of things.

“We’re trying to create a situation where the plants can thrive and become more tolerant and more resistant,” Tecklenburg explained.

This includes integrating all parts of production, whether it be organic or conventional, in order to tie the entire system together.

“It’s all-encompassing. If you can register something organically today, a conventional grower can use it as well, and it’s not the reverse,” Tecklenburg added. “This approach ensures that everyone is able to benefit from the program Greensmith APN is creating.”

2021-05-12T11:01:50-07:00January 21st, 2019|

Pyrethroid Review is Important

Be Thoughtful on Pyrethroid Review Comment Page

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director 

California Ag Today has continued coverage on the pyrethroid class of insecticides, which were under review by the EPA. The critical industry comment deadline has been moved to honor before July 7th this year. California Ag Today spoke with David Haviland, an entomology farm advisor with UC Cooperative Extension Kern County about his philosophy on commenting regarding the pyrethroid class of materials.

“From my perspective, please don’t go on there and just say, ‘We need pyrethroids.’ What they really need to know is what importance do these pyrethroids play to that particular commodity on that particular farm? What’s being done to make sure that the risk from those products are mitigated? One of the concerns of pyrethroids is if they can move off-site into waterways. That’s a legitimate concern. All those things need to be taken into account and then reviewed,” he said.

An easy website to go to comment without that complicated government URL is simply


2017-06-01T00:13:05-07:00May 30th, 2017|

New IPM Work on Brown Stink Bug

New IPM Approach to Brown Stink Bug In Desert Cotton

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

This year, the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Cooperative Extension, Riverside County began an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program to control Euschistus servus, or brown stink bug, a problem in Southern California’s cotton production areas.

Vonny Barlow

Vonny Barlow, a UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor in Riverside County

Vonny Barlow, a UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor in Riverside County began evaluating brown stink bug in cotton last year, and he received additional funding this year from a National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) grant administered through North Carolina State University, to continue his research this year. Barlow just hired two interns to work with brown stink bug in the Palo Verde Valley in Southern California.

The pest was known to exist in Arizona for about eleven years, but was not a critical issue until about three years ago, when it moved into California. California cotton growers had to spend a lot of money to spray to manage the insect, and it just wasn’t economically feasible.

“In many areas in the south, the brown stink bug pierces into the cotton boll with its proboscis-like mouthpart—a stiff, short straw,” said Barlow. “Once the cotton boll is pierced, the brown stink bug tries to feed on the cotton seed. The problem is the puncture allows bacteria to enter and boll rot to set in. Boll rot is the issue because it lowers yield quality; without boll rot, the brown stink bug is much more of a manageable pest.”

Spraying is not the answer to control the bug, according to Barlow. “We are going to look at an area-wide pest management approach by just essentially surveying the pest control advisers (PCAs) and growers about cropping that is near or even some miles away from cotton,” he said. “Where is the brown stink bug showing up? When did it show up? Is it moving? When are you going to harvest? Is it moving into the cotton? That way, we can give the cotton growers a better idea of when they should start management practices for brown stink bug, instead of just routinely calendar-spraying every two weeks.”

“We hope to predict when brown stink bug will move into cotton. Farmers who just harvested wheat should expect it will come into your field within the week. Start scouting; it is another very good IPM tactic to reduce sprays and to better manage pests,” said Barlow.

Featured image: Brown Stink Bug (Source: Brown Stink Bug (Source: “Chemical Efficacy Trial using Select Insecticides against Brown stink bug, Euschistus servus on Commercially Planted Cotton” by Vonny Barlow, University of California, Agricultural and Natural Resources, Riverside County, April 2016 issue of “Postings from the Palo Verde” newsletter)

2021-05-12T11:05:54-07:00June 23rd, 2016|

Climate Change Affects Integrated Pest Management Practices

Despite Lack of Funding, IPM Programs Need to be Re-Worked

By Colby Tibbet, California Ag Today Reporter

Climate Change is a pressing concern for growers and others in the ag industry, prompting the modification and redesign of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices, among other farming operations.

John Trumble, an entomology professor at the University of California, Riverside, explained that we are going have to change our IPM programs—processes based on scientific research for solving pest problems while minimizing risks to people and the environment. “We will have to account for changes in temperature, insects infesting fields more quickly, bio-controls including beneficial insects becoming possibly less effective, and altered plant growth due to elevated CO2 in the atmosphere.

Trumble noted,“What worked for your father isn’t going to work for us now. In the last 10 to 15 years, we’ve seen major changes in which insects are present, speed of entry into the fields, the extent of damage they cause and the plant’s lack of compensation for that damage. That is a lot of work for somebody in the future to redo all those IPM programs developed in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, that we’ve used successfully for years.”

“One of our biggest problems in re-working these IPM strategies is that there’s a general move afoot in the government to reduce funding: for the USDA, the EPA, and even the National Institutes of Health. This year the USDA funded only 5 percent of the grants submitted,” said Trumble, “versus the normal 10-15 percent, and the funding shortage could halt investment in future programs. In a bad year, USDA would invest 12 percent—but five percent, who’s going to go into agriculture if you can only get five out of 100 grants actually funded? It’s really awful,” Trumble remarked.


2016-05-31T19:32:18-07:00October 25th, 2014|
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