Oregon IPM Insider, Vol 1 Issue 1 Spring 2020 - Katie Murray

IPM Insider Spotlight

State IPM Coordinator Katie Murray connects the dots of IPM globally

How does an anthropologist work to advance IPM? In 2007, Katie Murray, Associate Professor of Practice and Statewide IPM coordinator, earned her M.A. in Applied Anthropology: Natural Resources and Communities at Oregon State, after serving for two years in the Peace Corps in Mongolia. That same year she was hired by IPPC to create new Pest Management Strategic Plans (PMSPs). Studying community food systems gave Katie the know-how to connect with agricultural stakeholders and identify areas for IPM improvements. Katie has since helped create PMSPs for over 12 different systems, including bivalves, Christmas trees, and most recently potatoes in the Pacific Northwest using her new “IPM Strategic Planning” format. Katie also oversees the crop pest losses impact assessment project, and continues to chair Oregon’s State IPM Committee for Oregon state agencies. An article which Katie co-authored in The Lancet: Planetary Health that classifies pesticide risks and hazards for 659 pesticides was published in February, and describes work she has helped put into practice, with stakeholders from the Western U.S. to Africa. 


Katie facilitates a consultation with smallholder farmers in Kenya


IPM strategic planning meetings are intensive, all-day events where growers, consultants and university faculty from a particular industry have broad discussions about what is (and isn’t) working in their cropping systems. The PMSP reports, available free through OSU Extension and the National IPM Database, contain a trove of information about the needs of farmers, plus updated data about current pests and management activities. “The reports are useful as a process for research and extension faculty, especially new faculty, because it allows them to gain a comprehensive understanding of the current state of a cropping system directly from the growers and consultants” says Murray. “The strategic plans are intended to examine the current pest management practices within an industry, and find ways to make improvements from an IPM perspective.” The results speak for themselves: a review of PSMPs for pacific northwest hops concluded that there were significant IPM improvements between 2008 and 2015, with PMSPs having leveraged funding toward identified priorities. 

The IPM Strategic Plans provide the content for the Oregon IPM Center’s new Critical Needs database. Murray explains that “it helps to identify research and extension priorities, but over time also reveals that some needs persist, and they often apply across multiple industries.” There are plans to improve its searchability, and to enable users to communicate within the framework about ongoing projects and funding opportunities.

Strategic planning is also important for people that grow the food they depend on to live. As part of a recent project funded through USAID Feed the Future, Katie worked with Paul Jepson to reduce pesticide risks for smallholder farmers in Malawi, a small country in southeastern Africa. They consulted with farmers, extension workers and others in the Malawi maize system, where Fall armyworm is a severe pest, applying the same principles used in strategic planning in Oregon. The goal was to examine what farmers were currently doing to manage fall armyworm and other pests, and to ask how management could be improved. They found that basic pesticide education was badly needed, as well as access to protective equipment for application. Katie explains that “by utilizing the IPM Strategic Planning process, we were able to detail maize pest management and the critical needs among smallholder farmers.” The IPM Strategic Plan for Malawi maize is complete, and a second report based on similar work done in Kenya is in progress. 


Katie participates in a smallholder consultation in Malawi 


Katie holds a leadership role in multiple regional IPM groups. She serves as the Committee Chair and Statewide IPM Coordinator for Oregon. In 2013, House Bill 3364 established an IPM Coordinating Committee made of representatives from each of Oregon’s state agencies. The agencies are tasked with implementing IPM in their operations, meeting three times annually and issuing biennial reports. It’s a good opportunity to identify challenges and areas for IPM advancement. As Northwest Network Coordinator for the Western IPM Center, Katie is responsible for collecting responses to federal information requests, including USDA and EPA requests for public comment on pesticide registration issues. A database of these formal comments is housed on the western IPM center website. Katie also co-leads the Western Pesticide Risk Management workgroup, a signature program of the Western IPM Center.


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This article appears in Vol 1, Issue 1 of Oregon IPM Insider, March 2020.