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. Educational material developed by participants for use in producer training is being shared via DropBox. Each of the training classes were expected to conduct eight educational events in their local area. We have far surpassed this goal, as detailed in our ‘Accomplishments’. This report will focus on the accomplishments of year 2 only.
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.
In years one and two, we conducted a train-the-trainer courses to develop a Spray Application Working Group (SAWG). Each train-the-trainer workshop will train eight educators working as Extension faculty, teachers, or crop consultants. Each cohort of trainees was to offer at least one workshop or training opportunity to growers highlighting the best management practices of spray application technology. Through trainings, we expect to directly engage 800 growers annually. 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.
The trainings were conducted in November 2013 (i.e. fiscal year 1) and September 2014 (fiscal year 2) with 8 people participated in each of the 4-day “Train-the-Trainer Course on Application Technology”. This report will focus on accomplishments from year 2. The second cohort of trainees were from the Western US and region (4 from Washington, 1 from Oregon, 2 from California, 1 from British Columbia Canada). They included Extension faculty, government department of agriculture educators, and crop consultants. Training materials, pictures, and other educational resources were shared with the participants via a DropBox folder to share presentations and pictures. The PI’s of the grant are leading a monthly phone call with SAWG. We have share our educational techniques, review and discuss journal articles, propose new work, and share other relevant information.
We expected at least 16 educational events to be conducted by the group after training. The participants were inspired and surpassed our minimum expectations. Over the next year, a total of 21 workshops were conducted with 1004 producers attending from fruit and vegetable farms. This is an increase 3 workshops and nearly double the producers from the first year training. The Washington State educators have developed a 1-day sprayer calibration/optimization course that is permanently funded through the state department of agriculture with additional funding from grower groups and chemical companies. About 100 participants were trained in four workshops and another series of four workshops are scheduled for 2016. Educators also calibrated 36 individual sprayers that would be used on over 4466 acres of farmland. Compared to year 1, there were fewer trainings, but the sprayers were used on larger farms so the acreage doubled. Twenty-four shorter (i.e. 20-30 minute) presentations were made at various fruit and vegetable meetings reaching approximately 1,685 producers.
Lastly, two educators wrote articles and helped with an educational video series. The article was a blog post with hyperlinks to YouTube videos for www.thealmonddoctor.com discussing the effects of ground speed on spray coverage. The post was picked up by the Western Farm Press, which generated more traffic (557 views) to the YouTube videos. The video series covered 6 topics and was coordinated with Penn State University and Dr. Jason Deveau at OMAFRA in Canada.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
The second year participants were surveyed to determine their knowledge gained and change in activities. 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 and performed more than in year 1. Second year participants increased their knowledge in 1) sprayer types, 2) the role of air in deposition, 3) newer sprayer designs, and 4) how all the basic components of a sprayer work. Specific methods to enhance their educational programs included: 1) helium bubble chamber to show air movement, and 2) use of a patternator to examine vertical spray patterns. These are slightly different than knowledge gained by the first cohort, so the monthly phone calls have increased knowledge sharing across both classes. Lastly, by creating permanently funded classes in Washington State, we have had long-term impacts of changing policy and resources in just two years of this grant.
Pesticide Application Specialist
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