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Omaha Steve Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 12:39 PM
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Pigs replace pesticide in battle against beetles /

Carlos Osorio / AP
Jim Koan's Berkshire pigs are seen on his apple orchard in Clayton Township, Mich., Jan. 31, 2008.
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updated 7:42 a.m. CT, Wed., March. 5, 2008

CLAYTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. - Jim Koan has gone hog-wild in his battle against a beetle that threatens his 120-acre organic apple orchard.

As part of a research experiment believed to be among the first of its kind, Koan is using pigs to help protect his fruit from a tiny insect that is among the most destructive apple pests.

More than two dozen porkers patrol his orchard, gobbling down fallen, immature apples containing the plum curculio's larvae. After a successful trial run late last spring, he and some researchers at Michigan State University are preparing for year two of the experiment at Almar Orchards and Cidery in eastern Michigan.

They hope their work will someday help fruit growers throughout the world reduce the use of pesticides while diversifying their agricultural operations, as he is doing. He plans to periodically sell off the offspring of his four original hogs, keeping only those he needs.

"I'm not ready to say that everybody should run out and do this but I'll tell you, after the first year, I'm a whole lot more optimistic and excited by the possibilities," said Dave Epstein, a tree fruit pest-management specialist at the university and the project's lead researcher.

The quarter-inch-long plum curculio is particularly difficult for growers like Koan to control because no good organic controls have been developed for them. The beetle can be controlled conventionally, often with the pesticide azinphos-methyl. But the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is phasing out the powerful pesticide, marketed under the trade name Guthion, because of the risks it poses to farm workers and to the environment.

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The 'hog-wild' organic orchard

Adult female curculios cut crescent-shaped flaps in the skin of newly formed apples and lay their eggs inside, where they hatch. The beetle larvae burrow into the center of the young fruit, making it drop prematurely in late June or early July.

FULL 2 page story at link.

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fascisthunter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 12:42 PM
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1. Ahhhh.... some Good News!
Refreshing.... hope this works out for year two. Working with nature is much better than against nature.
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kestrel91316 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 01:25 PM
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2. I LOVE farmers who use their heads instead of poisons.
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