USDA-ARS National Program 304

Stakeholder Comment Site for USDA-ARS National Program 304: Crop Protection and Quarantine (NP 304)

Welcome to this Stakeholder Comment Site!

NP 304 is the home of research dedicated to pest management for sustainable agriculture. The mission of NP 304 is to provide technology to manage pest populations below economically damaging thresholds through the integration of environmentally compatible strategies that are based on increased understanding of the biology and ecology of insect, mite, and weed pests.

Thank you for providing information vital for developing the next NP 304 5-year Action Plan for Crop Protection and Quarantine. Please respond to a few questions, listed below, which will help set future priorities and directions for ARS’s national research in crop production for a wide diversity of crops.

Questions for You

Please click on each question to open a new window to record your input. Please share details about your organization as you answer these three questions.

1. What are the most important problems and challenges your organization faces for which research from NP 304 Crop Protection and Quarantine could contribute solutions.

2. What are the top research priorities that ARS should focus on during the next five years to better serve its customers/stakeholders in the areas of pest management for sustainable agriculture, which could include identification of pests, weed management, integrated insect pest management, and post-harvest protection?

3. How can ARS partner with stakeholders, such as private companies and commodity organizations, to better leverage its resources and maximize productivity?

For your reference...

NP 304 Research Components
National Program (NP) 304 conducts fundamental research to create the knowledge base necessary to develop innovative control methods and IPM strategies and applied research to produce information and material products that improve pest and disease control in agriculture. The expected outcomes include reduced costs; better controlled pests with fewer non-target, human, and environmental effects; and a reduction in existing pest populations or minimize the
establishment and spread of exotic organisms that may become invasive pests in agricultural production systems. These control strategies are applied in a variety of environments, from the production field to storage, shipping, and packing facilities. The development, implementation, and improvement of pest and weed management and control strategies contribute significantly to maintaining the competitiveness and vitality of U.S. agriculture and improving the quality and
security of our food and fiber supply.

Component 1: Systematics and Identification
ARS will continue to conduct research on the categorization and identification of organisms, including systematics, biodiversity, and taxonomy. Taxonomic efforts focus on the identification of insects and plants that are pests, or potential pests, of the Nation’s crops and natural ecosystems, as well as insects and microbes that are possible natural enemies of invasive pests, especially those that show potential as biological control agents. Taxonomic revisions are
conducted, including descriptions of new species. Confirmatory identifications are made for potentially invasive insects and weeds.

Component 2: Weeds
Weeds impact the efficiency, quality, and overall quantity of our Nation’s food and fiber crop production systems, with economic losses in the tens of billions of dollars annually. Although herbicides revolutionized weed management, the growing use of these compounds over the last 75 years has increased the evolution of herbicide resistant weeds. New methods are needed to reduce the continued evolution and spread of this resistance in weeds. Further, organic farmers identify weeds as one of their top production constraints. Research outlined in this component will reduce the impact of weeds on crop productivity by developing methods for the early detection of and response to invading weeds, defining the mechanisms that drive successful weed introduction and colonization, improving weed invasion and outbreak models, building knowledge necessary for successful adoption of integrated weed management, and developing novel biological control strategies and biopesticides and cropping systems that resist weed invasion. Since weed management is just one aspect of a sustainable cropping system, this research will be conducted in the context of a broader set of agro-ecosystem management objectives.

Component 3: Insects and Mites
Arthropod pests, including insects and mites, have adverse impacts on U.S. food, fiber, fuel, health, and natural ecosystems that result in annual losses of tens of billions of dollars and contribute to environmental degradation. Arthropod pests also cause hundreds of thousands of deaths and disability in humans, livestock, and other domestic animals.This component encompasses ARS efforts to control insect and mite pests of agricultural crops and natural
ecosystems. Multiple cropping systems will be investigated, with the arthropod pests of interest ranging from native organisms to established or recently introduced invasive species. Increased global trade and travel have led to an acceleration in the rate of unintentional introductions of invasive species. Several of these invasive arthropod pests threaten food and fiber crops and while others threaten entire natural ecosystems. Major pests cost more than $1 billion in yield losses and control costs each year. The Asian long horned beetle alone is a $670 billion threat, with APHIS allocating $10 millions per year in eradication. Additionally, climate and land-use changes may alter the geographical distribution, timing, and abundance of some pests. These challenges are difficult and complex and will require multifaceted approaches from ARS scientists, who will emphasize sustainable approaches. Research efforts will include biological and cultural control methods and developing more environmentally-friendly chemical pesticide approaches. Furthermore, ARS scientists will develop early detection and response methods for both invasive species and endemic pests expanding into new areas. Resistance management programs will be expanded and improved to protect genetically engineered crops from insect resistance. In addition, scientists will utilize technological advances in molecular genetics, proteomics, physiology, biochemistry, and genomics to explore novel ways to control pests.
Collectively these efforts will improve U.S. food security and help protect the Nation’s natural resources.

Component 4: Protection Of Postharvest Commodities, Quarantine, and Methyl Bromide Alternatives
The importance of postharvest pest management is twofold. Export of some commodities is dependent on the ability to eliminate their associated pests, weeds, and/or pathogens; and food that has been harvested and processed represents the maximum economic input for the commodity, so that any losses from pests are particularly expensive. However, chemical treatments for these products have become greatly constrained due to both the loss of important fumigant compounds, such as methyl bromide, and the development of pest resistance to the fumigants that remain available. ARS will conduct research that covers the full spectrum of needs in this area, from reducing pest infestation during harvest and storage to improving detection of stored product pests to developing innovative treatment methods based on sound biological principles. ARS has developed and applied cutting-edge methods that have led to the preservation of U.S. exports valued at billions of dollars. These improvements benefit other nations as well, contributing significantly to world food security by assuring the stability of food during storage and distribution.

Current Action Plan
NP 304 Action Plan

Past 5 years’ Retrospective Assessment
Summary of NP 304 Retrospective Assessment