On-Farm Training in Organic Pest Management Practices for Small, Diversified Farms

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2010: $83,775.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2012
Region: Southern
State: South Carolina
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Geoff Zehnder
Clemson University

Annual Reports


  • Fruits: melons
  • Vegetables: asparagus, beans, beets, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucurbits, eggplant, garlic, greens (leafy), onions, peas (culinary), peppers, radishes (culinary), sweet corn, tomatoes, turnips


  • Crop Production: cover crops, intercropping
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, workshop
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, habitat enhancement
  • Pest Management: biological control, biorational pesticides, botanical pesticides, competition, cultural control, economic threshold, field monitoring/scouting, flame, genetic resistance, integrated pest management, mulches - living, physical control, mulching - plastic, cultivation, precision herbicide use, prevention, row covers (for pests), sanitation, trap crops, traps, weed ecology
  • Production Systems: transitioning to organic, organic agriculture


    Project members and stakeholders met in January each year to identify specific topics for inclusion in the training, and to develop a schedule of training events for the year. A total of nine, one-and two-day training events involving classroom, laboratory and on-farm sessions were conducted during the project period (2010 – 2012). A total of 537 agriculture professionals representing 1862 and 1890 Extension, NRCS and NGO agencies attended. Farmer educators participating in the South Carolina New and Beginning Farmer Program were also invited to participate. First year training focused on the concepts of ecologically-based disease, insect and weed management, and subsequent trainings focused on more advanced topics including specific pest problems and solutions. Results of participant surveys indicated that over 90% were highly satisfied with the training format and content, and viewed the training as a valuable professional development opportunity that enhanced their ability to help farmers implement sustainable/organic pest management practices. As a result of the program we now have a core group of agriculture professionals with expertise in organic/sustainable pest management who are now helping farmers with implementation of effective, biologically-based pest management strategies. Thus the benefits of the project will continue beyond the project period through a network of cooperating farmers and agriculture professionals who will share information and personal experiences with pest problems and solutions.

    Project objectives:

    1. With stakeholder input identify key disease, insect and weed management strategies and resources promulgated in the “Pest Management for Organic Crops” Curriculum that are appropriate for on-farm training in sustainable/organic pest management.
    2. With cooperating farmers and instructors develop the training curriculum and schedule for a series of on-farm classes to demonstrate preventative and biologically-based disease, insect and weed management strategies.
    3. Promote and conduct the on-farm classes over a two-year period with instructors experienced in sustainable/organic farming and in disease, insect and weed management.
    4. Conduct follow-up interviews with training participants to assess their level of satisfaction with the training, and whether they were able to use the knowledge and skills gained to effectively teach farmers about the concepts of sustainable/organic pest management.

    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.