Career-Long Dedication to Integrated Pest Management Practices

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(Courtesy of Michael Baefsky)
Michael Baefsky relaxes at home at the end of a long day, doing his own mani-pedi during the pandemic, which is how he says, “integrated pest management strategies are applied in a more personal manner: stress reduction increases resistance to disease, isolation and quarantine prevents infection, no mask needed!”

    How do you design a rat out of a garden?
    Easy. Ask Orindan Michael Baefsky, who recently won an award from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR). He designs other pests out of landscapes too.
    “Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is important to me as a holistic approach to solving plant pest, disease and weed problems, because it starts with scientific analysis of the environment, moves on to creative solutions starting with biological adjustments and includes a feedback or recheck element that calls for ongoing monitoring,” said Baefsky, owner of a landscaping consulting firm called Trees, Bugs, Dirt, LLC.
    He was honored, via Zoom, with the first Lifetime IPM Achievement Award through DPR on Feb. 18, for his career-long dedication to IPM advocacy and education. He provides professional IPM consulting with an emphasis on developing site-specific IPM plans for public and private entities.
    Baefsky believes integrated pest management practices should be everyone’s concern.
    “Orinda News readers that love their homes and the landscape of Lamorinda, the Bay area and beyond, should be encouraged and inspired by the practice of a pest control approach that is based on a scientific assessment of the environment and seeks to optimize biological solutions to pest, disease and weed problems,” he said.
    He said originally his company was called Michael Baefsky, Horticulture Consultant, which later morphed into Baefsky & Associates, with the advent of several exciting collaborative projects for various public agencies.  
    “After the big recession, I decided to focus on the key elements of my teaching and consulting, which are Trees, Bugs, Dirt – a name that I hope will continue even after I am no longer around,” he said.
    Having held advisory positions in the Bay Area and helped develop many IPM publications, Baefsky recently worked with the San Francisco Department of the Environment to co-author Pest Prevention by Design – Landscapes Guidelines for Designing Out Pests, an interactive IPM model that focuses on designing landscapes to prevent pest invasions.
    “The publication is about stepping back and implementing good design approaches that minimizes pest problems in the landscape,” said Baefsky. “There is a companion volume about designing out pests from structures too.”
    Baefsky’s family supports his IPM efforts. “My wife Gini has always supported my IPM implementation around our house and garden, even when it’s not always successful,” he said.
    One of his sons and his wife are holistic cattle ranch managers as well.
    “They are constantly innovating IPM methods for a wide range of rangeland pests encountered, more grazing for invasive exotic weed control and (implementing) various innovative measures for managing populations of wild boar and rattlesnakes,” he said.
    Not all pests are actually pests.
    Baefsky said pests are defined in IPM as populations of organisms that create problems for humans.
    “When there are so many organisms of the same species that a host or target is bothered or harmed, then that population is called a ‘pest’ problem,” he said. “For example, a high population of potential pest organisms like Argentine ant (Iridiomyrex humile), may bother people inside their homes, yet in the landscape they may have beneficial aspects, such as controlling termites and aerating the soil.”
    Running his consulting business, educating others and winning the IPM Achievement Award, Baefsky said, feels wonderful, even though he’s missed the hands-on, interactive education during this pandemic.
    In his downtime, he has other, equally important interests.
    “I work in my own garden, watch birds, take walks, ride my bike and primarily sing, play and study Turkish and Arabic music, with a little Americana thrown in for fun,” he said.

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