Training for agricultural service providers in the diagnosis, visual assessment, and management of plant-parasitic nematodes

Final Report for ENE07-102

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2007: $116,115.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2010
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
George Abawi
Cornell University, NYSAES
Co-Leaders:
Beth Gugino
The Pennsylvania State University
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Project Information

Summary:

Vegetable and small fruit growers are aware of yield losses caused by plant-parasitic nematodes and are interested in implementing cost-effective management programs based on the use of action thresholds. However, access to information about plant-parasitic nematodes has been limited. Through 10 full-day workshops, our project team trained a total of 143 county extension educators, private consults, growers, university personnel, government employees and private industry representatives in diagnosing nematode damage, conducting bioassays for visual nematode infestation assessment and understanding integrated nematode management options in seven states across the Northeast.

Of the 68 participants who returned the follow-up impact survey, 100% had incorporated the knowledge acquired during the workshop into their outreach programs, 32 (47%) had made assessments for nematode problems on farms and 49 (72%) had recommended one or more practices for managing nematodes. A reported 850 farmers have benefited from these contacts with the trained farm advisors. In addition, 37 (54%) of the impact survey respondents have used the hardcopy and electronic educational resources provided during the workshop to in subsequent farmer education programming, teaching 680 vegetable and small fruit growers about nematodes, diagnostic techniques and management practices. The service providers continue to use the durable program resources to disseminate information to farmers.

Based on case study observations and reports, several growers have already improved their abilities to identify nematode infestations, target fields or areas requiring intervention, and implement new, integrated production practices to manage nematodes. These new practices include changing their cover crop from vetch to an alternative biofumigation crop of yellow mustard/rapeseed; implementing a new rotation with sudangrass and mustard, or rye; and adopting use of a non-fumigant nematicide applied as a drench or through drip irrigation water. These new practices are benefiting farmers with improved yields, reduced chemical input costs, and reduced human and environmental exposure to pesticides.

Performance Target:

Through use of intensive discussions and hands-on trainings in NY, CT, and VT and the Northeast region, 300+ extension educators, NRCS, crop consultants, interested growers, and other agriculture service providers will be trained in diagnosing nematode damage, conducting the bioassays for visual nematode assessment and understanding the management options available for plant-parasitic nematodes. Of those, 125 will incorporate acquired skills and knowledge in their programming and communications with growers and 40 will conduct the soil bioassays with interested growers to assess nematode infestations and provide appropriate management recommendations on an as-needed-basis.

Introduction:

Northern root-knot (Meloidogyne hapla) and lesion (Pratylenchus penetrans) nematodes are the two primary plant-parasitic nematode pathogens of vegetables and small fruits throughout the production areas in the Northeast, significantly impacting the quantity and quality of carrots, onions, potatoes, lettuce, strawberries and other small fruits and vegetables produced for processing and fresh market. Vegetable and small fruit growers are aware of yield losses caused by plant-parasitic nematodes and are interested in implementing cost-effective management programs based on the use of action thresholds.

Current crop rotation practices used by New York vegetable growers as management tools for nematodes are generally ineffective, as most crops usually grown in vegetable rotations (i.e., onions, carrots, potatoes, lettuce, snap beans) are susceptible. Commercial varieties of onion, carrot, lettuce and potatoes that are resistant to the northern root-knot and lesion nematodes are unavailable. Also, it is not feasible on high value organic soils to rotate with non-host crops which are often less profitable, thus vegetable growers depend on nematicides (fumigant types such as Telone or non-fumigant types such as Vydate) for management.

Nematode management in small fruits also relies on soil fumigation, the use of a non-fumigant nematicide Nemacur, and rotation. Fumigation is expensive ($500 per acre or higher) and not all fields can or need to be fumigated. Nemacur has recently been withdrawn from the market due to health and safety concerns, and rotation can be costly. For these reasons, growers need to identify fields with damaging nematode populations prior to planting perennial small fruit crops to avoid long-term economic losses. This situation extends throughout the Northeast region. Accordingly, there is a need to manage root-knot and lesion nematodes using biologically-based strategies and/or using chemical nematicides on an as-needed basis. Both of the latter management strategies require an accurate assessment of soil nematode infestation levels in a cost-effective manner. Unfortunately, soil nematode analysis conducted by public and/or private laboratories is costly (a minimum of $25/sample or higher), especially given the extensive sampling (approximately one composite sample per 2-3 acres is recommended) required to adequately assess the uneven distribution of nematodes within a field.

The overall goal of this project was to promote and train extension educators, private consultants, IPM practitioners, interested growers and other agriculture service providers including university faculty, staff and students in diagnosing nematode damage, conducting bioassays for visual nematode infestation assessment and understanding integrated nematode management options. This was accomplished by conducting a series of 10 intensive hands-on workshops in the Northeast region (NY, CT, VT, PA, ME, NH, MA, RI and NJ) over the course of two years. The train-the-trainer format facilitated the dissemination of information regarding nematode diagnosis, assessment, and management improving the possibility for growers to manage nematode problems on an as-needed basis and design a whole-farm nematode management plan. Managing nematodes on an as-needed basis reduces unnecessary nematicide applications and promotes the use of biologically-based control practices (including crop rotation, cover crops and green manures), which improve soil health, environmental quality, and farm profitability.

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Beth Gugino
  • James LaMondia
  • Deborah Neher

Milestones

Milestone #1 (click to expand/collapse)
Accomplishments:

Publications

Milestone 1

Milestone 1. Target beneficiaries attend and participate in one of ten to thirteen nematode management trainings that will be held in NY, VT, CT, ME, NH, PA, MA, VA, and NJ. Training sessions are designed to educate 25 people per session, with a new group of participants in each of the ten to thirteen locations over the course of 19 months.

From fall 2007 through winter 2009, ten full-day interactive training sessions were held to promote and train participants in diagnosing nematode damage, conducting bioassays for visual nematode infestation assessment and understanding integrated nematode management options (Figure 1). The training sessions were designed to target 25 to 30 participants. The training included lunch and two breaks to encourage the informal exchange of knowledge and experiences between participants. To accommodate various learning styles, the training was designed to include visual, auditory and hands-on activities. Varying how the information was presented and interspersing hands-on interactive was designed to help improve information retention. The workshop agenda was as follows:

  • 8:30 to 9:00 am Registration
    9:00 to 9:45 am Introduction of facilitators and participants, pre-workshop survey, workshop overview
    9:45 to 10:30 am Nematology 101: The biology and ecology of nematodes
    10:30 to 10:45 am Mid-morning break
    10:45 to 12:00 pm Signs and symptoms of nematode damage on various vegetable and small fruit crops grown in the Northeast plus nematode observations under the microscope
    12:00 to 1:00 pm Lunch and information discussion/ networking
    1:00 to 2:30 pm Assessing nematode infestation levels: How to soil sample, assess and make nematode management decisions plus hands-on bioassay demonstrations
    2:30 to 2:45 pm Mid-afternoon break
    2:45 to 3:45 pm Nematode management 101: Available options and managing on an as-needed basis
    3:45 to 4:15 pm General conclusions, Q&A, and assessing project impact
    4:15 to 4:30 pm Post-workshop survey

Each workshop participant received a three-ring binder containing a cover letter describing the project with project leader contact information, agenda, pre- and post-workshop surveys, PowerPoint presentations, general nematode references, nematode fact sheets, soil sampling and bioassay protocols, and blank paper for note taking. An electronic version of all the reference materials were also provided on a CD-rom so reprints and/or electronic versions could be further disseminated. To encourage use of the soil bioassays, a soil sampling kit consisting of a bucket, trowel, soil sampling bags, pots, pot labels, seeds and a marker were provided to each participant.

Working with a local Cooperative Extension educator to help make local arrangements and help promote the workshop was critical to our success. Workshop locations were selected based on ease of access and familiarity of location to perspective participants. The training workshop target audience included: extension educators, private consultants, IPM practitioners, interested growers and other ag service providers and this was referenced on any announcements or advertisements. Originally, more training sessions were going to be held in conjunction with established meetings in the Northeast such as the New England Vegetable and Fruit Conference and New England Vegetable in Manchester, NH and Berry Growers Meeting in Sturbridge, MA but we quickly learned that our target audience often participates extensively in these multi-day meetings and could not afford to take another day away from the office; it was not from a lack of interest in the topic. Below is a list of the locations and dates of the ten workshops that were offered in seven different states in the Northeast region as a part of this project.

  • Albany, NY – Best Western Albany Airport Inn – 19 September 2007
    Windsor, CT – Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station – Valley Laboratory – 3 October 2007
    Hershey, PA – Hershey Lodge in conjunction with the Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention – 28 January 2008
    Batavia, NY – Batavia First United Methodist Church – 10 March 2008
    Fairlee, VT – Lake Morey Resort – 20 March 2008
    Newport, RI – Hyatt Regency Newport in conjunction with the Northeast Division of the American Phytopathological Society Meeting – 10 October 2008
    Westampton, NJ – Rutgers Cooperative Extension, Burlington Co. – 21 October 2008
    Allentown, PA – Penn State Cooperative Extension, Lehigh Co. – 18 November 2008
    Monmouth, ME – Highmoor Research Farm, University of Maine – 6 May 2009
    Portland, NY – Cornell Lake Erie Research and Extension Laboratory – 19 November 2009

The workshops were advertised/ announced via local Cooperative Extension email listservs, the NE-IPM coordinators list-serv, local and regional newsletters as well as posted on an array of websites. Pre-workshop surveys indicated that most of the participants learned about the workshop from a colleague (30.8%), email (28.7%) or a newsletter(s) (24.5%) and to a lesser extent from a web posting or project leader.

PowerPoint slides from the workshop presentations are included in the uploaded documents below.

Milestone 2

Milestone 2. Evaluations of hands-on training and supplemental materials at end of training.

To gather general background knowledge and expertise and then more specific experience with plant-parasitic nematodes and nematode management, a pre-workshop survey was administered following introductions. A post-training survey was used to request additional feedback regarding the training structure and content as well as ask questions regarding how the participants anticipated using the knowledge and skills acquired during the training. To save time, the same information could have been acquired using as a single before-after survey tool administered at the conclusion of the workshop.

Milestone 3

Milestone 3. Incorporate acquired skills and information into outreach programs and communications with growers.

In the post-workshop survey administered at the end of each workshop, participants were specifically asked to indicate, on a scale of 1 (no intention) to 5 (strong intention), their intention to incorporate the information they learned during the training workshop into their programming and outreach activities. To further document this impact, participants were asked more specific questions about how and to what extent they have been able to incorporate the knowledge acquired during the training workshop (i.e. one-on-one interactions with growers, newsletter articles, grower meetings, field days, special trainings) on the final follow-up survey. Participants were also asked to what extent they had been able to: 1) diagnosis nematode problems; 2) assess a field for nematode problems; 3) recommend on or more management practices; and 4) hold a training session or present a talk related to the topic of the workshop.

Milestone 4.

Milestone 4. Aid growers in sampling soil, conducting bioassays, and interpreting infestation levels to make nematode management decisions with our guidance initially, if needed.

At each workshop, participants were highly encouraged to contact us if they have any questions as they worked with growers and other stakeholders to conduct the bioassays and address any nematode management issues. The contact information for the project leaders was made readily available on the cover letter in the resource binder and pointed out at the beginning of the workshop. The project leaders have fielded several requests for additional information on the bioassays and plant-parasitic nematodes as well as reviewed and published several newsletter articles indicating that the knowledge acquired was being transferred into the field.

Milestone 5

Milestone 5. Participate in less formal regional group meetings/conference calls or more one-on-one follow-ups.

Although no official meetings were held, encouragement of the use of bioassays to assess plant-parasitic nematode infestations, increasing the general awareness about the potential damage nematodes cause and the importance of digging-up and observing crop roots has been mentioned at various grower twilight meetings and during individual conversations with growers during the past season.

Milestone 6

Milestone 6. Target beneficiaries complete a survey/evaluation to assess project impact among target beneficiaries and anticipated impact of outreach to small fruit and vegetable producers in NY, CT and VT and the Northeast region.

A final follow-up evaluation survey was administered in spring 2010 to assess how the skills and knowledge acquired during the full-day workshop had been incorporated into their outreach programs and/or communications with growers. This survey was administered using the web-based survey tool, SurveyMonkey, a tool not readily available at the time this proposal was written in 2006. Participants (< 10%) who either did not provide an email address or did not have email were mailed a hardcopy of the survey along with a stamp addressed envelope to encourage their return.

Performance Target Outcomes

Performance target outcome for service providers narrative:

Outcomes

A total of 143 people from twelve states and Canada attended one of ten full-day train-the-trainer workshops titled ‘Diagnosis, visual assessment and management of plant-parasitic nematodes of vegetables and small fruit in the Northeast’ that were offered in seven different states in the Northeast region from fall 2007 through winter 2009. The breakdown of the target audience was as follows: county extension educator/regional specialist (28.7%, n = 40), university personnel (25.2%, n = 35), grower/producer (18.0%, n = 25), private crop consultant/advisor (11.5%, n = 16); government employee (7.9%, n = 12); and private company/industry (8.6%, n = 11). Three people either did not complete the pre-workshop survey or did not answer this specific question. Although we fell short of the target number who attended the training (n=143), based on responses (n=68) to the final follow-up survey, more than 850 farmers were reached with new, useful information during the course of the project; an average of 12 people per participant.

Not surprisingly, the primary reason for attending the workshop listed by the participants was to learn about plant-parasitic nematodes and their management as indicated on their pre-workshop survey. Many participants had limited to no exposure to nematodes prior to participation in the workshop or it had been many years since the topic was covered while attending an educational institution. With such a diverse audience and the many topics covered, it is also not surprising that the ratings of the usefulness of the information presented were highly variable. However, in the end, all the participants rated the workshop as excellent (72.5%) or good (27.5%) with respect to content and felt it was well worth their time to attend. This is further typified by comments such as “this was the best workshop I have attended and represents the type of programs I would like to see more of” and that “the workshop exceeded my expectations…much thanks.” Eighty-two percent of participants had a strong intention of incorporating the knowledge gained during the workshop into their programming and outreach activities through interactions with individual growers, use of the bioassays for assessing nematode infestation levels, aid in diagnosis of plant problems, etc.

Of the participants who returned the follow-up impact survey (47.5%, n = 68 of 143 total participants), 100% indicated that they had incorporated the knowledge acquired during the workshop into their outreach programs. Thirty-two participants (47% of survey respondents) indicated that they had assessed a field for nematode problems since attending the training workshop and 49 (72%) had recommended one or more practices for managing nematodes. Proportionally, based on the total number of participants, this exceeds our original performance target. In addition, the hardcopy and electronic resources provided during the workshop have also been used in subsequent programming by 37 (54.4%) of respondents.

Based on responses to the follow-up impact survey, individual participants and/or the growers they worked with were contacted to further document the mid-term impacts of this project. Below, we list four such case studies and briefly describe their impacts.

An extension educator from Pennsylvania used the information presented during the train-the-trainer nematode workshop to assist a potato grower in determining that the production problems observed on his farm were due to lesion nematodes. The grower changed his practice from using vetch cover crops that contributed to increasing nematode populations to an alternative biofumigation crop of yellow mustard/rapeseed. This same educator also demonstrated that vegetable crops in high tunnels were heavily affected by northern root-knot nematodes, and trained a second grower to use the soil bioassay with lettuce to recognize nematode galls developed on the roots. As a result, the grower changed practices to incorporate a mustard biofumigation crop in their rotation and no nematode problems were noticed this year. The impacts for these two growers were economic benefits from management of nematode pathogens, reduced input costs, and reduced human and environmental exposure to pesticides.

An extension agent from New Jersey worked with vegetable growers to identify nematodes as the cause of damage in the field, and further, determined that not all the fields were infested with damaging nematode levels. The grower implemented a new rotation with sudangrass and mustard as a biofumigant crop. The impact of this was to manage a previously unknown nematode pathogen, averting significant economic losses. The use of management tactics in infested fields only, reduced input costs and reduced human and environmental exposure to pesticides.

A vegetable grower in New York worked with an extension educator who had attended one of the nematode workshops to diagnosis a root-knot nematode problem on his peppers last year using the soil bioassay with lettuce. As a result the grower rotated crops in his field, exchanging the susceptible crop with a rye cover crop. He also learned that he could apply the non-fumigant nematicide Vydate as a drench or through the irrigation water to also help manage his nematode problem; an option he had not considered before. The grower felt that his interaction with the extension educator was very helpful in enabling him to understand more about nematodes, methods of detection and how to manage them on his farm.

An ornamental crops producer approached a state government employee in Vermont, who had attended one of the nematode workshops, about the numerous black lesions on the roots of his peonies; a symptom he had been observing since 2005. Initially, the employee thought the symptoms were characteristic of a fungal pathogen, but the absence of fruiting bodies and/or mycelia in the samples suggested something else. Having seen examples of lesions caused by the nematode Pratylenchus in the literature and during the workshop, the investigation turned towards nematodes as a possibility. The diagnosis was confirmed when samples of infected material placed in water released numerous lesion nematodes. As a result of the workshop, the participant was better prepared to extract the nematodes and provide diagnostic and management techniques to the grower even though the workshop emphasized nematodes in vegetable and small fruit production.

In addition, participants were provided with an opportunity to comment or reflect on their participation in the workshop. Below are examples of what a number of participants had shared with us:
• “I found this workshop to be informative and well presented. Since I am a horticulturist, my clients are home gardeners and a few landscapers. This does not give me the opportunity to use the information on a regular basis but I can now answer questions on nematodes and do the appropriate testing if the problem arises. Before taking the workshop, I had no knowledge of how to detect nematodes. I do now. Thank you.”
• “Although nematodes are not one of our more common problems, the knowledge gained in this program in the understanding of nematodes greatly aides the diagnostic process. When an educator is in the field and needs to diagnose a problem, a complete understanding of insect, disease, nematode and abiotic problems is the only way to do a reasonable diagnosis. This program provided additional training to support that diagnostic process. One of the better trainings that I’ve attended in 17 years of extension.”
• “In regards to the workshop, I felt that the one I attended was well organized and the material was presented in a way that was easy to understand. Having lettuce seeds, pots and a trowel given to us as a way to run an assay on our own was also very well received.”
• “The program was well-structured and comprehensive study of the topic. There was a very nice balance of lecture and hands-on learning. The resources provided are timeless (durable) and useful for both grower and extension educator audiences. It was a joy to have world-renowned nematologists there carrying out the program. The face-to-face interaction time with them and other participants was an invaluable learning experience. I feel I now have minimal if not moderate competency in the subject area and am able to better assist commercial berry growers and extension personnel with nematode-related issues. Many thanks and keep up the good work.”
• “I’m glad I had the opportunity to participate in this workshop, I went home with a much better understanding of nematodes. My primary job is farmer, I’ve not had a need, so far, to do any nematode management. I do occasionally volunteer for Farmer to Farmer assignments when the subject of nematodes is sometimes discussed. I feel better prepared to answer questions on nematodes if needed.”

  • “I found this workshop to be informative and well presented. Since I am a horticulturist, my clients are home gardeners and a few landscapers. This does not give me the opportunity to use the information on a regular basis but I can now answer questions on nematodes and do the appropriate testing if the problem arises. Before taking the workshop, I had no knowledge of how to detect nematodes. I do now. Thank you.”

    “Although nematodes are not one of our more common problems, the knowledge gained in this program in the understanding of nematodes greatly aides the diagnostic process. When an educator is in the field and needs to diagnose a problem, a complete understanding of insect, disease, nematode and abiotic problems is the only way to do a reasonable diagnosis. This program provided additional training to support that diagnostic process. One of the better trainings that I’ve attended in 17 years of extension.”

    “In regards to the workshop, I felt that the one I attended was well organized and the material was presented in a way that was easy to understand. Having lettuce seeds, pots and a trowel given to us as a way to run an assay on our own was also very well received.”

    “The program was well-structured and comprehensive study of the topic. There was a very nice balance of lecture and hands-on learning. The resources provided are timeless (durable) and useful for both grower and extension educator audiences. It was a joy to have world-renowned nematologists there carrying out the program. The face-to-face interaction time with them and other participants was an invaluable learning experience. I feel I now have minimal if not moderate competency in the subject area and am able to better assist commercial berry growers and extension personnel with nematode-related issues. Many thanks and keep up the good work.”

    “I’m glad I had the opportunity to participate in this workshop, I went home with a much better understanding of nematodes. My primary job is farmer, I’ve not had a need, so far, to do any nematode management. I do occasionally volunteer for Farmer to Farmer assignments when the subject of nematodes is sometimes discussed. I feel better prepared to answer questions on nematodes if needed.”

Additional Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:
Milestone 1

Milestone 1. Target beneficiaries attend and participate in one of ten to thirteen nematode management trainings that will be held in NY, VT, CT, ME, NH, PA, MA, VA, and NJ. Training sessions are designed to educate 25 people per session, with a new group of participants in each of the ten to thirteen locations over the course of 19 months.

From fall 2007 through winter 2009, ten full-day interactive training sessions were held to promote and train participants in diagnosing nematode damage, conducting bioassays for visual nematode infestation assessment and understanding integrated nematode management options (Figure 1). The training sessions were designed to target 25 to 30 participants. The training included lunch and two breaks to encourage the informal exchange of knowledge and experiences between participants. To accommodate various learning styles, the training was designed to include visual, auditory and hands-on activities. Varying how the information was presented and interspersing hands-on interactive was designed to help improve information retention. The workshop agenda was as follows:

  • 8:30 to 9:00 am Registration
    9:00 to 9:45 am Introduction of facilitators and participants, pre-workshop survey, workshop overview
    9:45 to 10:30 am Nematology 101: The biology and ecology of nematodes
    10:30 to 10:45 am Mid-morning break
    10:45 to 12:00 pm Signs and symptoms of nematode damage on various vegetable and small fruit crops grown in the Northeast plus nematode observations under the microscope
    12:00 to 1:00 pm Lunch and information discussion/ networking
    1:00 to 2:30 pm Assessing nematode infestation levels: How to soil sample, assess and make nematode management decisions plus hands-on bioassay demonstrations
    2:30 to 2:45 pm Mid-afternoon break
    2:45 to 3:45 pm Nematode management 101: Available options and managing on an as-needed basis
    3:45 to 4:15 pm General conclusions, Q&A, and assessing project impact
    4:15 to 4:30 pm Post-workshop survey

Each workshop participant received a three-ring binder containing a cover letter describing the project with project leader contact information, agenda, pre- and post-workshop surveys, PowerPoint presentations, general nematode references, nematode fact sheets, soil sampling and bioassay protocols, and blank paper for note taking. An electronic version of all the reference materials were also provided on a CD-rom so reprints and/or electronic versions could be further disseminated. To encourage use of the soil bioassays, a soil sampling kit consisting of a bucket, trowel, soil sampling bags, pots, pot labels, seeds and a marker were provided to each participant.

Working with a local Cooperative Extension educator to help make local arrangements and help promote the workshop was critical to our success. Workshop locations were selected based on ease of access and familiarity of location to perspective participants. The training workshop target audience included: extension educators, private consultants, IPM practitioners, interested growers and other ag service providers and this was referenced on any announcements or advertisements. Originally, more training sessions were going to be held in conjunction with established meetings in the Northeast such as the New England Vegetable and Fruit Conference and New England Vegetable in Manchester, NH and Berry Growers Meeting in Sturbridge, MA but we quickly learned that our target audience often participates extensively in these multi-day meetings and could not afford to take another day away from the office; it was not from a lack of interest in the topic. Below is a list of the locations and dates of the ten workshops that were offered in seven different states in the Northeast region as a part of this project.

  • Albany, NY – Best Western Albany Airport Inn – 19 September 2007
    Windsor, CT – Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station – Valley Laboratory – 3 October 2007
    Hershey, PA – Hershey Lodge in conjunction with the Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention – 28 January 2008
    Batavia, NY – Batavia First United Methodist Church – 10 March 2008
    Fairlee, VT – Lake Morey Resort – 20 March 2008
    Newport, RI – Hyatt Regency Newport in conjunction with the Northeast Division of the American Phytopathological Society Meeting – 10 October 2008
    Westampton, NJ – Rutgers Cooperative Extension, Burlington Co. – 21 October 2008
    Allentown, PA – Penn State Cooperative Extension, Lehigh Co. – 18 November 2008
    Monmouth, ME – Highmoor Research Farm, University of Maine – 6 May 2009
    Portland, NY – Cornell Lake Erie Research and Extension Laboratory – 19 November 2009

The workshops were advertised/ announced via local Cooperative Extension email listservs, the NE-IPM coordinators list-serv, local and regional newsletters as well as posted on an array of websites. Pre-workshop surveys indicated that most of the participants learned about the workshop from a colleague (30.8%), email (28.7%) or a newsletter(s) (24.5%) and to a lesser extent from a web posting or project leader.

PowerPoint slides from the workshop presentations are included in the uploaded documents below.

Milestone 2

Milestone 2. Evaluations of hands-on training and supplemental materials at end of training.

To gather general background knowledge and expertise and then more specific experience with plant-parasitic nematodes and nematode management, a pre-workshop survey was administered following introductions. A post-training survey was used to request additional feedback regarding the training structure and content as well as ask questions regarding how the participants anticipated using the knowledge and skills acquired during the training. To save time, the same information could have been acquired using as a single before-after survey tool administered at the conclusion of the workshop.

Milestone 3

Milestone 3. Incorporate acquired skills and information into outreach programs and communications with growers.

In the post-workshop survey administered at the end of each workshop, participants were specifically asked to indicate, on a scale of 1 (no intention) to 5 (strong intention), their intention to incorporate the information they learned during the training workshop into their programming and outreach activities. To further document this impact, participants were asked more specific questions about how and to what extent they have been able to incorporate the knowledge acquired during the training workshop (i.e. one-on-one interactions with growers, newsletter articles, grower meetings, field days, special trainings) on the final follow-up survey. Participants were also asked to what extent they had been able to: 1) diagnosis nematode problems; 2) assess a field for nematode problems; 3) recommend on or more management practices; and 4) hold a training session or present a talk related to the topic of the workshop.

Milestone 4.

Milestone 4. Aid growers in sampling soil, conducting bioassays, and interpreting infestation levels to make nematode management decisions with our guidance initially, if needed.

At each workshop, participants were highly encouraged to contact us if they have any questions as they worked with growers and other stakeholders to conduct the bioassays and address any nematode management issues. The contact information for the project leaders was made readily available on the cover letter in the resource binder and pointed out at the beginning of the workshop. The project leaders have fielded several requests for additional information on the bioassays and plant-parasitic nematodes as well as reviewed and published several newsletter articles indicating that the knowledge acquired was being transferred into the field.

Milestone 5

Milestone 5. Participate in less formal regional group meetings/conference calls or more one-on-one follow-ups.

Although no official meetings were held, encouragement of the use of bioassays to assess plant-parasitic nematode infestations, increasing the general awareness about the potential damage nematodes cause and the importance of digging-up and observing crop roots has been mentioned at various grower twilight meetings and during individual conversations with growers during the past season.

Milestone 6

Milestone 6. Target beneficiaries complete a survey/evaluation to assess project impact among target beneficiaries and anticipated impact of outreach to small fruit and vegetable producers in NY, CT and VT and the Northeast region.

A final follow-up evaluation survey was administered in spring 2010 to assess how the skills and knowledge acquired during the full-day workshop had been incorporated into their outreach programs and/or communications with growers. This survey was administered using the web-based survey tool, SurveyMonkey, a tool not readily available at the time this proposal was written in 2006. Participants (< 10%) who either did not provide an email address or did not have email were mailed a hardcopy of the survey along with a stamp addressed envelope to encourage their return.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.