"CropWalk Clean" is the first IPM-specific certification for food, medicine, and ornamental plant producers, providing a sound sense of security for the sellers and consumers of these products.
When you see the CropWalk Clean logo, you can be assured that the highest standards were met throughout the cultivation process to "Start Clean, Stay Clean" by integrating every feasible control measure possible to prevent and combat crop pests and pathogens with as few pesticides as possible.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an ecosystem-based strategy that focuses on long-term prevention of pests or their damage through a combination of techniques such as biological control, habitat manipulation, modification of cultural practices, and use of resistant varieties. Pesticides are used only after monitoring indicates they are needed according to established guidelines, and treatments are made with the goal of removing only the target organism. Pest control materials are selected and applied in a manner that minimizes risks to human health, beneficial and nontarget organisms, and the environment.
Growers certified by CropWalk have been audited to verify they meet the standards below. During a rigorous onsite inspection, they surpassed a high threshold score on the CropWalk Audit and agreed to provide documentation of practices to CropWalk every six months that this certification stands.
The CropWalk IPM mantra is #StartCleanStayClean! That means keeping crops free from pests while also keeping those flowers, foods, and medicinal herbs free from any unnecessary pesticides all while making farmers money and keeping consumers happy and healthy.
“CropWalk Clean” Certification Standards:
1. Whenever possible, cultivars for production were selected for host-plant resistance to common key pests. Choosing plants with a true, heritable resistance to expected pests and/or pathogens is a great way to 'start clean'.
2. All economically-viable cultural controls were used to reduce the risk of pest and pathogen spread. They include intentional, strategic use of crop cycles, irrigation and fertigation, biosecurity protocols, and a long list of additional production practices with the intention of ‘staying clean’. Cultural controls are specific to the crop, production style, and unique operation, but CropWalk rigorously scores crop producers for their use of best practices to achieve IPM goals. Cultural controls include the management of environmental variables in controlled environment agriculture (CEA) as well as the implementation of effective sanitation and hygiene protocols.
3. All economically-viable biological controls were used to reduce the risk of pest and pathogen spread. Biological controls are specific to the crop and the production style. ‘Biocontrol’ includes the use of beneficial organisms to manage unwanted species. Using ‘good’ bugs and microbes whenever feasible as an alternative to chemical treatments is a requirement for “CropWalk Clean” certification. In outdoor agriculture, this includes required efforts to employ native natural predators and parasitoids of pests from the surrounding environment. Their biocontrol ‘toolbox’ must be as inclusive as is feasible for their operation, employing predatory and parasitic arthropods, entomopathogenic fungal agents, beneficial nematodes, and viral agents, which can be incredibly specific in their target pest, reducing potential harm to beneficial organisms (like you!).
4. Whenever feasible, behavioral controls were used to disrupt the natural behavior of the target pest to prevent crop damage, including efforts to distract and deter pests. This can include using traps that attract pests like colored sticky cards or using biochemical components of companion plants to repel the pests from the primary crop and towards a ‘trap crop’ which is more attractive to the pest for some reason.
Being “CropWalk Clean” requires growers understand their agroecosystem and the biology and ecology of the organisms within it. That is the only way they can employ genetic, cultural, biological, and behavioral control methods. Learn more about control methods here.
5. A written, site-specific, robust, comprehensive IPM plan is in place, governing all practices, outlining schedules, detailing products in the ‘toolbox’ as well as the pests and pathogens, and serving as an effective training resource for employees. The plan addresses all the critical content requirements of a CropWalk IPM plan and it is actively used in decision-making.
6. Every possible effort to reduce or eliminate the use of synthetics pesticides was made throughout the entire production process with an end goal in mind of providing consumers with the highest quality, cleanest products available. When chemical controls were used in production, action thresholds were employed to prevent economic injury levels and pesticide resistance
7. Sustainability. Economically and ecologically.
8. Equal opportunity, diversity, and inclusion.