Encouraging farmers, present and future, to husband their croplands in balance with nature is the mission of OSU Professor Carol Mallory–Smith.
Farms need ecological balance. The same interplay of light, water, chemistry and DNA that generates and sustains life in any natural ecosystem is at work in fields of wheat and rows of beans. In the hands of OSU Agricultural Sciences Professor Carol Mallory–Smith, it forms the basis for lessons in pest control.
A widely published weed science researcher, she is committed to developing environmentally sound practices for farms and to training students. So, along with colleagues Sujaya Rao and Ken Johnson, she is dedicating the $20,000 L.L. Stewart Faculty Scholar award she received in 2006 to the development of a series of online courses in the practice of integrated pest management — controlling bugs, weeds and diseases with a range of strategies that are gentle to the landscape. The idea is to control pests by scouting fields, forecasting weather, rotating crops, encouraging insects’ natural enemies and using other nature–friendly techniques combined with pesticide use.
"It is important for farmers to understand the principles behind blending many different tactics for managing pests," Mallory–Smith says. "The limited number of new chemicals, along with the constraints for using available chemicals, make integrated pest management increasingly important for production agriculture." She expects to launch the first online course in 2008.