Bee Sweet at Bartleson Ranch

Cal Poly Partnership Introduces Technology to Reduce Pesticide Use

An advanced method of treating citrus before it leaves San Luis Obispo County will drastically reduce the amount of pesticide currently being used to control agricultural pests.

The wash line is the latest Learn by Doing enhancement made possible by the continued partnership of Cal Poly’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences and Bee Sweet Citrus, a prominent citrus packing and shipping company based in the Central Valley.

A state-of-art wash line for processing citrus, and a 14,900-square-foot steel canopy to protect it, was installed by Bee Sweet Citrus at the Bartleson Ranch in Nipomo. The 450-acre avocado and lemon ranch, donated to Cal Poly in 2015 by Stu and Jan Bartleson, is used as a site of extended hands-on learning and research opportunities for students studying horticulture, fruit science, soil science and more.

“Five years ago, Cal Poly was gifted the land to extend our hands-on curriculum, and now we have this technology on display for our students to learn from,” said Andrew Thulin, dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences. “The generosity of our partners provides essential educational opportunities for our students in sustainable practices that will benefit generations to come.”

State regulations require that all citrus must be washed or sprayed with pesticides to prevent the Asian citrus psyllid pest from spreading. The new wash line facility establishes a needed tool to ensure the safe transportation of citrus between regional areas. The wash line installation was managed by Cal Poly alumni Thomas Marderosian (Agricultural Systems Management, '13), one of three sons of Bee Sweet Citrus founder Jim Marderosian to graduate from Cal Poly, and Matt Watkins, who is involved in pest management. Cal Poly alumnus Francisco Zepeda (BioResource and Agricultural Engineering, '19) will oversee the program.

Watch a video about the wash line at Bee Sweet


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