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

    Proposal abstract:

    There has been an increasing demand for information on farm conservation and sustainability practices from farmers and landowners in South Carolina who are interested in starting small-scale, diversified farming operations. South Carolina SARE Program stakeholders have identified training in sustainable/organic pest management for our agriculture professionals as a top program priority. This project will address stakeholder needs through the development of a series of on-farm, hands-on training courses in sustainable/organic disease, insect and weed management for 1862 and 1890 Extension, NRCS personnel and other agriculture professionals. Pest management information and strategies incorporated into the training will be adapted from a previously funded Southern SARE PDP project to develop a sustainable agriculture training curriculum for agriculture professionals. The training will emphasize a holistic, integrated and systems approach to solving disease, insect pest and weed problems with an emphasis on high value vegetable crops commonly grown on small, diversified farms. The training courses will be organized by the SC SARE Program led by co-coordinators at Clemson and South Carolina State Universities, and will be taught at the Clemson University Organic Farm by regional experts in sustainable/organic pest management. The training program will produce a core group of agriculture professionals with expertise in organic/sustainable pest management who will in turn be able to help farmers to effectively implement 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 from proposal:

    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. Farmer-stakeholders will be directly engaged in the project planning. A set of key pest management strategies from the web-based curriculum that show the greatest practical merit for small scale, sustainable/organic farmers will be selected and further developed for teaching and demonstration in an on-farm setting.

    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. Advance and widespread promotion of the on-farm training curriculum and schedule of classes developed with program partners including Clemson and South Carolina State University Extension Programs and the SC SARE Program, will generate interest in the training project and will encourage the participation of significant numbers of 1890 and 1862 Extension agriculture and horticulture agents and other agriculture professionals.

    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. As a result of the training participants will demonstrate improved awareness and competency in the principles and practices of preventative and biologically-based pest management, and they will use the knowledge and skills gained from the training to effectively educate farmers about successfully implementing a holistic, sustainable/organic pest management program. The project will initiate a network of Extension agents and farmers who will exchange personal experiences with pest problems and solutions.

    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.