Protect Yourself with Integrated Pest Management

If there is one thing that hasn’t changed through the centuries, it’s the battle between pests and farmers. Stories of whole crops being decimated in the blink of eye are recorded in every culture.

Today, there are incredible resources to help with this age-old problem, including one housed right here in Davis – the University of California Integrated Pest Management (UC IPM) program. IPM provides scientifically based information on how to effectively deal with pests whether they are natural or exotic or in urban, agricultural, wildland or natural areas.

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Dr. Jim Farrar, director of UC IPM, recently visited WCAHS and gave a seminar talk on “IPM and Agricultural Worker Safety.” Pesticides are extensively used in farming. In 2014 alone, California registered 2.5 million pesticide applications. Agricultural workers are especially vulnerable to getting exposed to pesticides when directly handling them, such as during mixing or spraying, and when walking through fields and encountering pesticide drift in the air and residue on plants.

UC IPM provides both online and instructor led courses on the newest advances in pest management as well as basic safety skills with pesticides. Farrar stressed that continuing pesticide safety education is key to protecting agricultural workers and their families from harm. For example, workers can learn how to correctly use personal protective equipment when applying pesticides to avoid exposure and why it is important to wash work clothes separately from household clothes.

IPM also provides online information on how to deal with common pests found in the home, on our pets and even on us! For example, IPM has advice on managing ants, rats, lice and fleas. Farrar emphasized that while it is often difficult to eliminate pests 100%, they can be actively managed and controlled with the PAMS approach:

             Prevent pests from infesting.

             Avoid conditions that are conducive to pest damage.

             Monitor for pests and properly identify them.

             Suppress pests with appropriate tactics.

The PAMS approach works because it takes the long-term view of controlling pests. You can find detailed tips on how to manage all types of pests at the UC-IPM website.

Coming soon! National Farm Safety and Health Week 2014

PrintSeptember 21-27 is National Farm Safety Week. This year’s theme is “Safety Counts: Protecting What Matters.” The theme underscores the importance of working together to build a safer and healthier agricultural work place. California produces nearly half of US-grown fruits, nuts and vegetables. At the heart of this industry are the farmers and agricultural workers, whose labor provides us with an abundant food supply. However, they, and often their families, are exposed to a unique, sometimes hazardous workplace that can affect health at all age levels.

During National Farm Safety Week, the 10 Agricultural Centers funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Healt2014 Farm Safety Ad-Spanishh salute those working in agriculture. You can watch online safety videos through a special YouTube channel. These safety videos are designed for producers, extension agents, and farm families. Safety Counts: Protect What Matters, go to https://www.youtube.com/user/USagCenters or visit the Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety website at http://agcenter.ucdavis.edu/, which is housed at the University of California, Davis.

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Small Changes Can Make Big Impact with Ladders

LaddersBlogPic-UCAERC-CommPartnersIf you ever had an ergonomic review of your workspace, you know that small changes, such as moving your chair up an inch or tilting your monitor a few degrees, can make a big difference in reducing muscle aches and pains.

The same is true in agriculture where repetitive movement (e.g., going up and down ladders) can become incredibly tiring, potentially leaving a worker open to various types of injury. Staying healthy and strong is especially important for farmworkers who look forward to harvesting multiple crops through the season.

Professor Fadi Fathallah, engineer Victor Duraj, and others at the UC Agricultural Ergonomics Research Center (UC AERC) are continuing their earlier work funded by NIOSH Community Partners for Healthy Farming Intervention that showed some workers who harvest peaches and nectarines prefer a ladder with shorter spacing between steps.

Why might this be? It may go back to the principle of switchbacks. If you’ve ever hiked, you know that it is a lot easier to go up the hill via switchbacks than blazing a trail straight up. You have to take more steps with switchbacks but the vertical height of each step is much less, and, ultimately can be less tiring. You might also find that even though you took longer to get there, by the end of the day you may have walked further or the next day be less tired, or both. The same may be true when climbing a ladder if it has shorter steps.

In current work supported by the Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety, the UC AERC is using human muscle force modeling software to see why some workers with relatively small differences in size might have a strong preference for a particular spacing. To help match forces with movements the researchers are using motion capture equipment that includes small sensors strapped to many points on a body. These electronics are similar to those used in developing animated movie and video game characters that move in “real” ways. Besides actual and modified orchard ladders, the UC AERC will use their newly developed portable research ladder that allows for precise positioning of each ladder rung as well as overall angle of the ladder, which will help the researchers test software-predicted optimum spacing for each person in the study.

If you are curious to know more or are a grower interested in participating in field trials, please contact Victor Duraj at 530-752-1898, vduraj@ucdavis.edu, or via http://www.ag-ergo.ucdavis.edu.