A disconnect can exist between “expert” scientists’ and growers’ priorities, and miscommunication between these two groups can lead to a reduction in the adoption of integrated pest management (IPM) practices. However, we can improve communication between growers and scientists by understanding the drivers behind grower decision making. For many growers, these decisions can be influenced by their social networks, experience level, and crop production style (conventional versus organic).
Specialty crop growers in Indiana and Ohio have access to many IPM tools; however, growers rely heavily on insecticides to control insect pests. One unexplored IPM tool is insect-resistant crop varieties. This tool is ideal because insect-resistant varieties are compatible with many control practices and can easily be added to existing IPM plans. Carrot is an important specialty crop that could benefit from the investigation of insect-resistant varieties. Currently, growers are struggling to control the carrot weevil, a devastating pest of apiaceous crops that can cause up to 90% yield loss. Investigation of novel management strategies like insect-resistant varieties could improve the profitability and sustainability of this crop.
In this project entitled “Assessing growers’ knowledge of and interest in implementing insect-resistant varieties as a part of an integrated pest management plan,” we will use a survey to assess specialty crop growers’ knowledge of and attitudes towards insect-resistant varieties and evaluate whether these attitudes differ between conventional and organic producers and with years of farming experience. Additionally, we will assess the resistance of seven carrot varieties to carrot weevil damage through greenhouse and field trials.
The information gained from this project will help us understand the factors and potential barriers considered by growers in deciding how to approach pest management in their crops. Moving forward, this will guide members of the research, extension, and education communities in developing learning materials that address grower knowledge gaps. Furthermore, growers will be able to make informed decisions about the seed or transplant varieties they select, improving insect pest management and reducing growers’ reliance on insecticides. The success of this project will be evaluated through follow up surveys to assess the effectiveness of extension deliverables as well as documentation of engagement with and use of online materials produced from this project (i.e., number of views and downloads).
Project objectives from proposal:
- Growers and extension educators will be aware of the pests present in carrot fields and how these populations can change over time and between varieties.
- Growers will learn about insect-resistant varieties, and how to integrate them into their current integrated pest management plan.
- Extension educators will be aware of growers’ attitudes towards and knowledge of resistant cultivars as a management tool, and how these attitudes differ between conventional and organic growers.
- Growers will be able to make informed decisions when purchasing seeds or transplants for their local pest challenges.
- Growers will be able to incorporate resistant varieties into their current pest management plan, reducing the need for insecticide.
- Extension educators will be able to develop targeted extension material to address grower knowledge gaps and tailor the information for growers with different management strategies.