- Animal Production: manure management
- Crop Production: fertilizers, nutrient management, organic fertilizers
- Education and Training: demonstration, extension, technical assistance, workshop
- Pest Management: chemical control
Problem and justification. Pesticides and nutrients are a major expense on New England farms, and their application brings associated health and safety Improved accuracy will prevent over-application, which can result in financial loss, adverse environmental effects, and potential crop damage. Regulatory requirements, including new licensing requirements, new label instructions, worker protection standards (WPS) and manure spreading restrictions heighten the need for farmers to be well-skilled at calibrating their application equipment and understanding personal protection equipment (PPE). Since many new pesticides are manufactured to be used at ultra-low rates, accuracy of measurement and delivery is very critical. The number of new and small farmers in New England continues to grow, and many of these farmers lack formal on-farm training. Equipment calibration expertise is also limited among agricultural service providers, and training opportunities in the region have been limited.
Solution and approach. The cornerstone of this project is to give agricultural service providers hands-on practice operating and calibrating the equipment. Two, 2-day trainings will be given, one focusing on nutrient application equipment the other on pesticide application equipment. Webinars will provide the theoretical background to support the hands-on activities. Three webinars will be offered each year, some prior to the hands-on training, some afterwards. Educational resources to support participants’ activities will include a compilation of print, electronic, and video resources, calibration kits, and personal protective equipment. The participants will then be able to offer a variety of educational programs to farmers, from one-on-one or small group calibration to larger group discussion or lecture. The final aspect of this project is follow-up and assistance, which will be the activity in the third and final year of the project. In the third year, the project director will track participants’ delivery of this material to farmers (the final beneficiaries) and will provide suggestions and guidance for educational programs.
Performance targets from proposal:
25 agricultural service providers will teach at least 600 New England farmers (growing on at least 10,000 acres) to accurately and safely apply manure, fertilizer, and/or pesticides through practical calibration education and appropriately-scaled precision agriculture. At least 450 of the farmers reached will improve their calibration and application