Multimedia Training Resources on Sustainable Greenhouse Vegetable Production

2002 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, evaluated and distribution started. A videocassette will be mailed with the hard copy of this report and more can be made available on request for distribution by SR-SARE. Initial distribution will be to county offices in NC. The organic fertilization video has been filmed, scripted, and edited, and is in the production process.

Funds were obtained from campus SARE-PDP sources to film a third video on best management practices. This video has been filmed, time-coded, and is in the process of being converted to DVD for editing. A website has also been developed ( greenhouse_veg/) and a distance education course which contains much of the material developed as part of the video project was developed and taught twice to a total of 30 students, including extension agents and participants from other states. As part of that course, students visited greenhouses in Canada and Arizona.

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. 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 a website 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. The ATTRA directory of sources of organic fertilizers and media will be linked.
    Increase the ability of trainers to prepare their own web, slide or print presentations on these subjects by creating a 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. 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. (See 1999 and 2000 reports for descriptions of cooperator inputs, filming and script development for these videos). The biocontrol video was extensively edited, but is now completed and evaluated. Peet gave a presentation on this project at the ASHS meeting July 2001 in Sacramento, CA. The report was well received and most attendees signed a list to receive an evaluation copy of the video. We have 100 copies at this point and have already distributed several dozen to evaluators. The video was also shown to and evaluated by a group of 15 agents and students in spring 2001 and 2003, by a new grower and individual agent in the Taylorsville extension office, by colleagues in Florida and Canada. All evaluations received to date indicate that this is a valuable resource in the area of biocontrol. 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, and the soundtrack is currently being added. This project was held up because of some of the differences between the proposed greenhouse rules for the National Organic Standards and what had previously been required by the individual 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. This information, and other research data on organic greenhouse production we developed under a grant from OFRF were shared with ATTRA, which developed a bulletin on Organic Greenhouse Vegetable Production in 2000. Based on these findings, our research on organic fertilizers and the ATTRA material, presentations on organic greenhouse production were given in North Carolina (2), Canada (2), Florida (2), Pennsylvania (2), Ohio (1) and Arizona (1). In addition, we have provided in formation to numerous individuals, researchers, and extension agents on request.
Enhancement funds were obtained in 2001 from campus SARE-PDP sources to film a third video on best management practices. This video has been filmed, time-coded but not scripted or edited. It is currently being converted to DVD for easier editing and we may distribute on DVD or CD instead of videocassette to reduce mailing costs. The organization of the cultural practices video is somewhat different from the two previous videos. Instead of demonstrating practices in our greenhouses, we paid a well-known greenhouse consultant to visit several NC greenhouse growers. He discussed their practices, including biocontrol, and made recommendations based on what he saw and heard. This consultant is well-known nationally, and 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, and at least three NC growers, a Canadian grower, and one from Washington State, are in the process of implementing these protocols based on the initial information we developed from the 1999 survey. Numerous manufacturers and researchers have also contacted us for our procedures. 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, October 8, 2003, Toronto, Canada and the Professional Pest Management Association of BC (Canada) and Lower Mainland Horticulture Improvement Association Horticulture Growers' Short Course meetings Vancouver, BC for an additional 2 talks, Crop King Hydroponics Conference (2 talks each ), 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+); Western Vegetable Growers Conference, Asheville, NC, Feb, 2003, 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 other in-state presentations.
I also taught a graduate-level class in 2001 and 2003 ( ) on greenhouse vegetable production to 15 students each year, including agents. This class included extensive material on biocontrols and organic production and included a trip to Ontario, Canada in 2001 and Tucson, AZ in 2003 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 HS734 website listed above.