Development and training of a national spray application work group

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2013: $57,862.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2016
Region: Western
State: California
Principal Investigator:
Gwen-Alyn Hoheisel
Washington State University

Annual Reports


  • Fruits: apples, cherries, grapes, pears, general tree fruits
  • Nuts: almonds


  • Crop Production: application rate management
  • Education and Training: extension, networking, workshop

    Proposal abstract:

    Nationally, there is a significant programmatic gap in spray application technology education in perennial crops that limits adoption of new, safer, more efficient pesticide application technologies and practices. We propose to create a national network of trained extension personnel to deliver to growers and consultants, research-based information on newer technologies and reinforce the fundamentals of safe, effective pesticide delivery. We will conduct two train-the-trainer courses and develop educational material over the first two years. We will use expertise at Cornell for education in spray application technology and internet-based communication platforms at the University of California. We will augment widely used sustainability guides with best management practices of spraying. Trained educators will deliver at least 16 regional workshops to growers over two years. Educational materials for trainings will be shared electronically and posted on common websites (SlideShare and YouTube), thus facilitating learning from experts across different regions and disciplines. We will assess the effectiveness of both train-the-trainer courses and local grower workshops. Feedback from educators will allow us to improve the course and materials developed. At grower workshops, we will use electronic Turning Point surveys to achieve maximum success in assessing short term impacts. Behavioral changes will be assessed in the third year with surveys and personal interviews of a sample of producers who participated in the workshops. At the project’s end, a significant, national programmatic gap will be bridged and agricultural spray application education improved, benefiting agricultural producers, pesticide handlers and farm workers, the environment and local communities.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Objectives and Timetable:
    The goal of this project is to set U.S. deciduous tree and vine growers solidly on a path towards more effective, more efficient, and safer spray application programs. Successful completion of our extension project will improve grower profitability by lowering production costs and improving pest management while reducing pesticide loss from the farm. To reach our goals we will:

    1. Establish a national spray application work group (SAWG) and connect members to ensure the SAWG is sustained after the grant ends.
    2. Increase grower and custom-sprayer operator awareness of practices and technologies that improve spray application efficiency, efficacy, and reduce off-farm pesticide movement due to drift and runoff.
    3. Increase adoption of best practices and technologies that improve spray application efficiency and reduce drift and runoff.

    In the winters of years 1 and 2 we will conduct two train-the-trainer courses to develop a SAWG. Each year participants are expected to conduct at least one local training for growers highlighting the best management practices of spray application technology. In the third and last year of the project, we will evaluate our progress via surveys and interviews with course participants. These results will allow us to meet the grant requirements and further improve our program.

    We will solicit feedback from the extension faculty about improvements and needs for successful programming at the end of each class. However, for a true measure of impact we will assess both the educators and the growers as separate audiences.

    Learning progress will be measured with pre- and post-training tests for both the train-the-trainer course and the grower workshops. From the train-the-trainer workshops success will be measured by a 75% improvement in educators’ knowledge and a 75% (or 6 out of 8) of the local, grower workshops will be conducted annually. Growers attending training will show an 80% improvement in knowledge and/or behavior. To ensure reaching the largest audience we will use electronic audience response systems (TurningPoint Technologies) at statewide or regional grower meetings. This will provide instantaneous assessments as to learning and current practices as well as ensure that the surveys are completed.

    Behavioral changes will be measured by follow-up surveys and individual interviews in year 3. We will assess the anticipated increase in programmatic focus of educators by measuring the time, deliverables, and grants written concerning spray application technology. A sample (25%) of the growers attending workshops will be surveyed or interviewed based on the recommendations of the local educator. We will assess changes in practices, improvements in crop quality and reduction in crop damage/losses. Grant funds have been requested to assist with costs of paper or personal interviews.

    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.