Development and training of a national spray application work group
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.
This project has two main activities: 1) train educators working as Extension faculty and crop consultants, and 2) disseminate information to producers so that they improve their spray applications. Over the course of the entire project, we will conduct two train-the-trainer courses at Cornell University and develop educational material. In year one, the first training has occurred. Educational material developed by participants for use in producer training is being shared via DropBox. In the first year, we expected eight educational events to be conducted by the group. We have far surpassed this goal, as detailed in our ‘Accomplishments’.
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. We believe at the end of year one we are well aligned to meet this goal.
In years one and two, we will conduct two train-the-trainer courses to develop a SAWG. Each train-the-trainer workshop will train eight educators working as Extension faculty, teachers, or crop consultants. By the end of year one at least eight workshops or training opportunities will be offered to growers highlighting the best management practices of spray application technology. Through trainings, we expect to directly engage 800 growers and even more at statewide and regional meetings. Over the course of years 1-3, a minimum of 4 extension publications, presentations, or trade journal articles that are regionally relevant will be created to aid in grower education. Collaboration and co-authorship among extension faculty is expected. Through shared training and development of materials, a larger network of trained professionals will be created. The train-the-trainer workshops success will be measured by a 75% improvement in educators’ knowledge and ability to conduct additional educational events.
In November 2013, the first year of the proposal, 8 people participated in the first 4-day “Train-the-Trainer Course on Application Technology”. The participants work across the nation (2 from Washington, 2 from Oregon, 2 from California, 1 from Pennsylvania, 1 from New Hampshire) and include Extension faculty, community college professors, and crop consultants. Within a few months of the training, the participants have established a DropBox folder to share presentations and pictures. Four participants also collaborated for the first time to submit a Risk Management proposal.
We expected at least 16 educational events to be conducted by the group after training. The participants were inspired and far surpassed our minimum expectations. Over the next year, a total of 18 workshops were conducted with 573 producers attending which represented more than 9,000 acres of fruit and vegetable farms. Educators also calibrated 50 individual sprayers that would be used on over 2,900 acres of farmland. Eighteen shorter (i.e. 20-30 minute) presentations were made at various fruit and vegetable meetings reaching approximately 1,238 producers. Lastly two educators published and consulted on articles in trade journal magazines. The article “From Recommendation to Application: How PCAs Can Help Minimize Drift, Ensure Coverage” was published in the February edition of California Association of Pest Control Advisers magazine with a circulation of about 3,000. The article “Practical Steps To Improving Sprayer Performance” was published in February edition of the American/Western Fruit Grower Magazine and also posted online.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
One year after the course, the participants were surveyed to determine their knowledge gained and change in activities. Prior to the training, only three participants had a majority of their programming centered on application technology. The others were not regularly giving presentations or workshops on methods to improve sprayer performance. By providing training, we doubled the number of workshops and presentations available to producers. More importantly, the quality of the education has improved due to a better understanding on ways to improve coverage and how to teach that to producers. More specifically, participants learned 1) improved spraying techniques that lead to better deposition and less drift, 2) methods to increase the timeliness of applications resulting in better disease and insect control, 3) technologies to reduce off-target drift, 4) new developments in sprayer design, and 5) how all the basic components of a sprayer work. Specific methods to enhance their educational programs included: 1) techniques for demonstrating drift potential, 2) use of fluorescent tracers at night to show coverage, 3) use of a vertical “Patternator” to show spray patterns, and 4) faster sprayer calibration techniques.
Pesticide Application Specialist
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Oregon State University
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