Multimedia Training Resources on Sustainable Greenhouse Vegetable Production

2001 Annual Report for ES99-043

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 1999: $39,887.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2003
Region: Southern
State: North Carolina
Principal Investigator:
Mary Peet
North Carolina State University

Multimedia Training Resources on Sustainable Greenhouse Vegetable Production


The original project proposed development of two videos: organic fertilization and biocontrol. The biocontrol video has been completed and partially evaluated. The organic fertilization video has been filmed, scripted, and edited, but is currently being re-evaluated because of differences between the proposed greenhouse rules for the National Organic Standards and what had previously been allowed by individual certifying groups. Enhancement funds were obtained this summer from campus SARE-PDP sources to film a third video on best management practices. This video has been filmed, but not scripted. A website has also been developed ( greenhouse_veg/) which contains much of the material developed as part of this video project.

Objectives/Performance Targets

  1. Decrease the use of broad-spectrum and high risk pesticides in greenhouses, with attendant environmental benefits. This will be accomplished by creating a high-quality 15-minute training video containing information about biological controls and reduced-risk pesticides. Economic information would also be included to allow growers to make informed choices about the potential profitability of their pest control decisions and to provide them with sufficent expertise to use biocontrols successfully. A greenhouse video also reinforces general IPM principles since the efficacy of biological control and some other IPM practices are easier to document in the greenhouse than in the field.

    Decrease greenhouse use of high-analysis soluble chemical fertilizers and increase the use of composts and organic fertilizers, thereby reducing nutrient pollution of waterways and ground water. This will be accomplished by creating a high quality 15-minute training video on use of organic media and fertilizers. Making trainers more familiar with organic crop requirements will also help them with recommendations to field producers interested in fertilizing organically.

    Increase the ability of trainers to advise on economic sustainability and sustainable cultural practices by preparing 15-page booklets with in-depth information on the topics presented in the videos and cost comparisons of the organic, biocontrol, biorational and conventional systems. This would provide a more balanced view of the profitability of all these systems. These cost comparisons will be based both on grower input and on costs based on experience and recommendations from the SR-IPM project. A directory of sources of organic fertilizers and media created by Peet is already on the web and will be referenced.

    Increase the ability of trainers to prepare their own web, slide or print presentations on these subjects by creating a web-based digital image library on greenhouse vegetable production. The database will be searchable using keywords, such as fertilization, pest control, whiteflies, environmental controls, etc. so it can also be used as a teaching tool.This material well be available on a hard drive attached to a Departmental web server for at least 2 years after completion of the proposed project. After that time, material may be migrated to a University server, depending on available software and other resources. Availability of this material should also increase the ability and willingness of extension personnel to make presentations on biological control and organic fertilization to all audiences.

    Distribute and publicize the information developed. Evaluation will also take place during the distribution phase, as described below.


The original project proposed development of two videos: organic fertilization and biocontrol. See1999 and 2000 reports for descriptions of cooperator inputs, filming and script development for these videos. The biocontrol video has been edited, and a limited number of review copies made and distributed for evaluation. Peet gave a presentation on this project at the ASHS meeting last July in Sacramento, CA. The report was well-received and most attendees signed a list to receive an evaluation copy of the video. The video was also shown to and evaluated by a group of 15 agents and students last spring. All evaluations received to date indicate that this is a valuable resource in the area of biocontrol. We have not yet finalized the evaluation form or distributed all the review copies of the video, as we plan on offering reviewers the option of evaluating all three videos. We have also documented the costs of biocontrol strategies relative to conventional pest control practices. Additional information on biocontrol and organic fertilization has been posted on the greenhouse vegetable production website developed for this project:, and is continuously updated.

The organic fertilization video has been filmed, scripted, and edited, but is currently being re-evaluated in light of differences between the proposed greenhouse rules for the National Organic Standards and what had previously been required by the indivdual certifying agencies. In 1999 we surveyed all the organic certifying groups we could locate, obtained copies of their standards, and extracted the parts relevant to greenhouse standards. These groups included CCOF, FOG, FVO, GOA, MOFGA, NHDAMF, NOFA (New York and Massachusetts), RIOCC, VOF, and CFSA in the US as well as several groups in Canada. Based on these findings, our research on organic fertilizers and material on organic greenhouse production developed by ATTRA material, presentations on organic greenhouse production were given in Canada (2), Florida (2), Pennsylvania (2) and Ohio (1). These presentations are available on the greenhouse website we developed.

However, we are now uncertain whether container growing using soilless media is allowable in the proposed national standards or whether greenhouse crops must be grown in the soil for organic certification. We are in the process of getting this issue clarified before releasing the video. We are also requesting clarification on whether rotation, cover crops and soil-building practices are required in the greenhouse.

Enhancement funds were obtained this summer from campus SARE-PDP sources to film a third video on best management practices. This video has been filmed, but not yet scripted or edited. The format of this video was somewhat different from the two previous videos. Instead of demonstrating practices in our greenhouses, we paid an internationally-known greenhouse consultant to travel to NC, and visit several greenhouse growers. He talked with experienced NC growers about their practices, including biocontrol, and made recommendations based on what he saw and heard. This consultant has been a popular speaker at our North Carolina Greenhouse Vegetable Growers’ meetings. By putting his name on the videos, and including some state-of-the art material, we hoped to interest established growers, as well as new growers in viewing the video series.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

There is increasing interest in greenhouse vegetable production nationally, especially in the protocols developed for organic greenhouse tomato production. At least three NC growers, a Canadian grower, and one from Washington State, were in the process of implementing these protocols based on the initial information we developed from the 1999 survey. It is not clear how the new national standards will affect their conversion process.

We have also been contacted about greenhouse organic production procedures by numerous manufacturers and researchers, including ATTRA. Evidence of the national interest this subject is that I have been an invited speaker on organic greenhouse and other subjects related to this proposal at the following national and international growers’ conferences: Canadian Greenhouse Conference, October 6, 1999, Guelph, Ontario, Canada. (2 talks), Conference attendance 2700+; the Hydroponics Conference (2 talks each ), Crop King, Orlando, FL, Nov. 12, 1999 and November 9-10, 2000; attendance 300+; Sustainable Agriculture Conference, High Point, NC, November 13, 1999 attendance (my session, one talk 40+); Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Growers Convention, Hershey, Pa., Jan. 25, 2000 and Jan. 29, 2002, Conference attendance 600+; Season Extension Class, AB Tech, Madison Campus, Dec. 6, 1999, 35+ in class; Veg Congress, Toledo, Ohio, February 8-9 2001 (2 talks), NE Vegetable and Berry Conference, Sturbridge, MA, Dec. 12, 2001, conference attendance 1200, and numerous in-state presentations. Next month I will be giving presentations on biocontrol and organic production at the Professional Pest Management Association of BC (Canada) and Lower Mainland Horticulture Improvement Association Horticulture Growers' Short Course meetings. These presentations and much additional material is available on the Greenhouse Food Production website:

I also taught a graduate-level class in Spring 2001 ( ) on greenhouse vegetable production to 6 extension agents, 3 undergraduates, and 3 graduate students. This class included extensive material on biocontrols and organic production and included a trip to Ontario, Canada for all class members to view state-of-the art biocontrol practices. Student evaluations were extremely positive. A trip report containing student comments is available at the 734 website listed above.