UMES receives $630,000 USDA grant to assist farmers in improved IPM practices

PRINCESS ANNE, MD-(September 1, 2021)-Agriculture is Maryland’s largest industry, employing 350,000 people and contributing $8 billion annually to its economy, according to a Maryland State Archives report.  The Chesapeake Bay is the second most important economic resource, which makes creating eco-friendly Integrated Pest Management programs essential to the state. 

“To protect the bay, farmers must continue to improve upon responsive IPM practices that will allow them to farm sustainably,” said Dr. Simon Zebelo, an entomologist at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.  Zebelo is the director for a research and extension project that recently received a $630,000 Crop Protection and Pest Management Grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

“Funding from its Extension Implementation Program will support the university’s efforts to carry out extension activities that address critical needs of farmers while protecting vulnerable habitats and accelerating the adoption of practices that support the National Roadmap for Integrated Pest Management,” Zebelo said.

UMES Extension’s focus and the focus of the project is primarily on small-scale, limited-resource and other farmers of specialty crops (vegetables and small fruit), agronomic crops (hemp and soybeans) and animal agriculture (particularly poultry).

“The latest agriculture census data tells us that organic, small acreage and farms owned by socially disadvantaged farmers are on the rise,” Zebelo said.  “These groups of farmers on Delmarva face many challenges, such as high input costs, insufficient market outlets, rising farmland costs, finite production skills, lower annual sales and quality of life. Their ability to remain viable in the face of these challenges has become progressively difficult.”

That’s where UMES steps in, he said.   Researchers and extension educators will expand educational programs to provide them the skills required to thrive under economically trying times.  UMES’ Small Farm Program will play a key role as they have a long record of assisting farmers in Maryland, Southern Delaware and parts of Virginia.

“To deliver information gained through research to end-users, the agricultural producers, we will provide in-person training sessions, exhibit research and demonstration plots that promote IPM, produce instructional videos and conduct on-farm trials,” said Berran Rogers, coordinator of UMES’ Small Farm Program.

Instead of viewing farmers as recipients or adopters of new practices, we will consider them as partners, Zebelo said.  Stakeholders will be engaged directly in the planning, development and administering of training activities.  Increasing participation helps promote and accelerate IPM adoption.

Work is done, Zebelo said, in collaboration with Dr. Cerruti Hooks of the University of Maryland College Park.

“We have strengthened partnerships such as this over the years,” Zebelo said.  “By working directly with other institutions, UMES faculty remains abreast of their projects and avoids duplicating similar efforts along with providing for a broader and more inclusive audience, and consistent and reliable flow of timely information to stakeholders.  Our cooperative efforts allow us to exchange ideas and create complementary programs.”

UMES’ team is comprised of contributors with specialties in weed science, entomology, plant pathology, plant breeding, horticulture, produce safety and poultry science.

The project is supported by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Crop Protection and Pest Management-Extension Implementation Program grant award number (2021-70006-35384).  Click here for more information on UMES’ Small Farm Program.

Gail Stephens, agricultural communications and media associate, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, School of Agricultural and Natural Sciences,, 410-621-3850.

Photos by Todd Dudek, agricultural communications photographer/videographer, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, School of Agricultural and Natural Sciences,

Scroll to Top