Resilient Systems for Sustainable Management of Cucurbit Crops

Grants and Contracts Details


The goal of this three-state (Iowa, Kentucky, and New York), three-year project is to help organic growers in the Eastern half of the U.S. produce muskmelon and acorn squash more profitably by optimizing a new pest management system known as mesotunnels. This project will focus on integrating weed control, soil improvements, pollinator conservation, and biological control. Research objectives for this project will be: 1) Compare the performance of the mesotunnel system to current commercial-scale muskmelon and winter squash production systems for pest and disease control, weed control, conservation of beneficial insects, and soil organic matter accumulation. 2) Develop and deploy biological control tactics to reduce the risk of bacterial wilt and CYVD as a supplement or alternative to mesotunnel systems. 3) Compare the cost effectiveness of mesotunnel and biological control strategies, alone and in combination, with current organic systems for muskmelon and winter squash production, and assess growers’ perceptions of barriers and incentives to use the new systems. 4) Share the most promising new production systems with organic cucurbit growers and extension professionals through diverse face-to-face and electronic outreach initiatives. The project directly addresses 5 of the 8 stated FY 2018 priorities for OREI. The on-farm experiments and demonstration trials will validate the promising mesotunnel and biological control strategies for transforming organic cucurbit production while also conserving ecosystem service providers and building soil quality (Priority 1). Our outreach plan incorporates training and resource development for Extension professionals and crop advisers (Priority 2). We will achieve consistently effective control of the pest/disease complexes and protect beneficial insects by drastically reducing the need for insecticides while building soil organic matter. Furthermore, the South is one of the three regions in which we will focus the proposed research and outreach (Priority 5). We will develop, test, and submit three peer-reviewed case studies to the online journal The Plant Health Instructor to illuminate the project’s subject matter for undergraduate students in a range of agricultural science disciplines (Priority 8). Finally, our social-economic research will discern barriers to adoption of the new crop management strategies and help us design strategies to overcome these barriers (Priority 9).
Effective start/end date1/1/202/28/24


  • Iowa State University: $383,142.00


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.