Enhancing Sustainability of Small Fruit Production in the Pacific Northwest Through Educating Producers on Consensus-derived Scouting and Decision-making Parameters

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2006: $170,929.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2010
Region: Western
State: Washington
Principal Investigator:
Craig MacConnell
Washington State University
Colleen Burrows
WSU Whatcom County Extension

Annual Reports


  • Fruits: berries (other), berries (blueberries), berries (brambles)


  • Crop Production: fallow
  • Education and Training: decision support system, demonstration, display, extension, farmer to farmer, focus group, mentoring, networking, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research, study circle
  • Pest Management: allelopathy, biological control, biorational pesticides, botanical pesticides, chemical control, competition, cultural control, disease vectors, economic threshold, eradication, field monitoring/scouting, flame, genetic resistance, integrated pest management, mulches - killed, mulches - living, mating disruption, physical control, mulching - plastic, cultivation, precision herbicide use, prevention, sanitation, smother crops, soil solarization, trap crops, traps, mulching - vegetative, weather monitoring, weed ecology, weeder geese/poultry
  • Soil Management: composting

    Proposal abstract:

    Our project will create a Scouting Toolbox for small fruits that will include consensus based decision-making parameters to guide and reduce risk. It will empower producers to conduct their own scouting or train their employees. The Toolbox will be available in print and electronic media and widely disseminated to producers in the Pacific Northwest. Educating a large number of producers in the use of scouting protocols, and giving them action threshold guidelines, will give them the information needed to more accurately time and/or reduce pesticide applications. The impact of this project will accelerate the use of scouting and whole-farm decision-making as a primary tool of Integrated Pest Management. This will, in turn, enhance environmental quality by reducing unnecessary chemical applications and reduce the likelihood of pest resistance. This education will also help to protect worker and consumer health. As a result of this project, producers will realize an economic advantage through more accurate and effective control methods, as well as a potential reduction in pesticide usage. This project will also enhance the option of value-added marketing, leading to more profitable products emphasizing more sustainable farming practices.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Short-term Outcomes
    In the short term, this project will bring over 60 Pacific Northwest researchers, producers, agricultural consultants, and other small fruits industry representatives together to reach consensus on identifying parameters for scouting and decision-making for small fruits. Their recommendations will result in the production of a living document that can be updated as information, need, and experience evolve.

    Approximately 29,210 acres of small fruits were harvested in Oregon and Washington in 2004. We will reach producers farming at least 20 percent of those acres in our initial outreach efforts. These producers would acquire new knowledge of appropriate scouting techniques for at least three pests and apply those skills on their farms.

    Long-term impacts

    The promotion of the Scouting Toolbox by commodity commissions and the personal endorsement by those area-wide producers involved in its use will greatly aid in changing the overall attitude of Pacific Northwest producers concerning the difficulties of transitioning to sustainable practices. Over the course of the next three to five years, 60 percent of producers of small fruits will have used the Scouting Toolbox to assist them in dealing with three to six key pests. An outcome of the increased use of the Scouting Toolbox in production small fruits will be after five years a 33 percent decrease in the number of organophosphates and pyrethroids pesticide applications per year with some increase in the use of low risk/low toxic chemical applications.

    Other outcomes of this project include:

    1. A new cadre of trained small fruit farmers and others utilizing effective IPM methodologies as a result of area-wide workshops, or other educational methods, dedicated to training scouts (these could be farm owners or their employees or private individuals who want to offer scouting as a service). The Scouting Toolbox will be the training instrument. The workshops will optimally take place at an Extension unit site or on-farm.
    2. A market advantage will accrue to producers who identify their crops and products as sustainably grown from the use of scouting and its associated reduction of pesticides, because consumers have shown a decided preference for crops grown in a sustainable manner.

    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.