Pest-management technology supports B.C. tree-fruit growers

June 28, 2022 at 2:52 pm  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

More tree-fruit growers and their orchards will benefit from time-sensitive advice about pest management as B.C.-adapted software becomes available in the Kootenays, which will help stabilize the sector and strengthen B.C.’s food security.

“Ensuring we have a strong tree-fruit sector that is resilient to climate change is important to our government, and we are working collaboratively to achieve this,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture and Food. “By expanding the use of this world-class technology, we are getting important information into the hands of Creston Valley growers, so they can continue to provide British Columbians with their delicious and high-quality tree fruit.”

The BC Decision Aid System (DAS) has been used in the Okanagan and Similkameen valleys to maximize the efficiency of pest-management practices and fruit production. Expanding the system to the Kootenay region will help create a more resilient and connected food system, and support the sector in becoming more competitive on the global stage.

Five new provincially funded weather stations in the Creston area will collect and integrate data used to forecast insect population trends so growers can better prepare for and respond to any pest-management issues. Growers will be offered software training to help them adapt to using the system, and data trends provide a vital link for management and pesticide recommendations. Since 2018, DAS has collected daily forecasts from 20 Okanagan weather stations.

BC DAS is a collaboration between industry partners, including the Okanagan-Kootenay Sterile Insect Release Program, BC Tree Fruits, BC Cherry Association, BC Fruit Growers Association, and the provincial and federal governments.

Quotes:

Brittny Anderson, MLA for Nelson-Creston –

“Our community is appreciative of the delicious fruit and economic activity that Creston Valley farmers provide us with each season from their local fields and orchards. The BC DAS system will be supporting valley farmers with effective pest-management technology so they can continue to be a key economic driver in the Kootenays and, of course, share their bounty with us.”

Kevin Day, co-owner, Day’s Century Growers – 

“Our commitment to producing high-quality fruit and our dedication to sustainable agriculture is greatly assisted by BC DAS. Integrated pest management is a model that has been followed on this farm for many years, and BC DAS assists us in achieving our goals. The weather stations allow us to make decisions based on the information and recommendations provided, and this enables us to deal with the problems in such a way as to maintain balance in the orchard between good bugs and bad bugs, benefiting the ecosystem for all.” 

Melissa Tesche, general manager, Okanagan-Kootenay Sterile Insect Release Program –

“We are excited to expand access to this technology to the Kootenays, which has been made possible through the advocacy of Fields Forward and the generous support of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food. It’s been a number of tough years for tree-fruit growers, and agritech systems, like BC DAS, can help our growers produce better fruit with fewer environmental impacts. We look forward to continued collaboration with all project partners, old and new.”

Quick Facts:

  • BC DAS is an integrated pest-management support system providing tree fruit growers and pest managers with easy-to-use technology as they make decisions on how best to battle insects and disease in their orchards.
  • The B.C. government is providing as much as $375,000 over the next three years so more people can use BC DAS in the Creston Valley, Similkameen and the Okanagan.
  • As much as $305,000 is going toward overall funding and horticultural support services for BC DAS, and $70,000 is going toward the hardware purchase, installation and maintenance and programming of five new weather stations in Creston Valley.
  • Additional weather stations and a climate change decision-making tool for Creston Valley farmers are being funded by Fields Forward, Columbia Basin Trust and the Regional District of Central Kootenay-Area B.
  • BC DAS is available to all growers, horticultural advisors and industry stakeholders in the Okanagan and there are more than 360 registered users.
  • Supporting an increase in the use of innovation and technology was one of the recommendations in the 2021 Path Forward: A Blueprint for B.C.’s Tree Fruit Industry (Stabilization Plan).

Learn More:

Further information on BC DAS, including video tutorials, is available on the Okanagan-Kootenay Sterile Insect Release website: https://www.oksir.org/bcdas/

The Path Forward: A Blueprint for B.C.’s Tree Fruit Industry Tree Fruit Industry Stabilization Plan: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/farming-natural-resources-and-industry/agriculture-and-seafood/animal-and-crops/crop-production/tree-fruit-stabilization-plan/the_path_forward_-_a_blueprint_for_bcs_tree_fruit_industry.pdf

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