CAFF kicks off BIOS program with event promoting sustainable nut orchards

The first Biologically Integrated Orchard Systems (BIOS) event on “Impacts of Biologically Integrated Orchard Systems (BIOS) in Walnuts” was held in Linden at the Anderson-Barngrover Ranch on Friday August 27th. Around 30 people joined in on celebrating and learning from the past, and sharing emerging solutions and challenges. 

Dave Taylor talking about using a pressure chamber to dial in irrigation. Photo Credit: Hanna Kahl

Hanna Kahl CAFF’s Ecological Pest Management Specialist gave an overview of the current BIOS projects, which are a collaboration between CAFF and UC Cooperative Extension. The BIOS project is working with six farmers in the Northern San Joaquin Valley and Sacramento Valley to assess the effectiveness of mating disruption for moth pests (Codling Moth and Navel Orangeworm) and document the moth population. Three of the participating farms are also hosting research trials looking at the effects of natural enemy release and cover crops on spider mites. 

Dave Taylor, a participant of the BIOS program in the 1990s and farmer of Anderson-Barngrover Ranch, spoke about the lasting impacts of participating in BIOS in the 90s. Dave was an early pioneer working with CAFF and UCCE to adapt mating disruption for Codling Moth. Dave has continued to implement mating disruption for over two decades. While Codling Moth is still a persistent and devastating pest for many walnut growers, Dave now has less codling moth over the entire year than some growers get in a single week and does not have to spray insecticides for Codling Moth. Dave cautioned that mating disruption can be costly in the beginning as initially farms have to invest in both mating disruption and continuing to spray (it took five years for him to obtain suppression of codling moth by mating disruption alone). However, Dave emphasized the worth of taking the long-term view on pest management decisions. 

Miguel Alvarez, current BIOS field technician, checking out a branch infested with Pacific flatheaded borer. Photo Credit: Hanna Kahl

Jhalendra Rijal, the UCCE IPM advisor for San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Merced Counties presented on the trends of pest populations in the San Joaquin Valley. Numbers of Codling Moth and Navel Orangeworm have been relatively low this year. Jhalendra also demonstrated infestation by the Pacific flatheaded borer, a pest that can cause extreme damage, but can often go undetected. 

Pest Control Advisor Jeannine Lowrimore talked about her time working on the BIOS project on initial mating disruption efforts in the early 2000s. One thing Jeannine demonstrated was the improvement of mating disruption products (for example, from over 10 pound canisters at much higher rates to much smaller lightweight canisters). 

After talks, there was demonstration of different technologies and continued celebration of BIOS past and present. There were booths demonstrating different mating disruption and trapping products, beneficial insects caught on sticky cards, soil sampling, a pressure chamber, examples of Pacific flatheaded borer infestation, CAFF resources, and former BIOS work. 

This event clearly showed the lasting impacts of the BIOS program and the importance of learning from this past work and continuing to expand it.

Early BIOS pioneers showing off BIOS sweatshirts. From Left to right: Jeannine Lowrimore, Chris Locke, Dave Taylor, Joe Grant, and Jack Radavero. Photo credit: Jeannine Lowrimore