Joel DeJong, NW Iowa Extension Crops Specialist
Making timely management decisions based on research during the growing season is difficult for crop producers. Extension Specialists do not have the time and numbers to make individual contacts directly with producers when a problem arises. How do we get research-based decision-making information into the hands of producers in a timely basis? Leveraging our information through ag businesses and directly through e-mail can help.
The "Crop Update" newsletter was first distributed 8 years ago. This newsletter was originally designed and targeted to agronomists, but as they shared it with producers, the demand became more widespread. "Crop Update" is sent mostly by e-mail (it was originally a FAX version newsletter, but technology has improved), with just a few receiving it by fax at this time. The newsletter is sent almost weekly during the crop growing season and about monthly in the winter months. Topics include what is being observed in NW Iowa and surrounding areas, what problems to be scouting for at any point in time, and information on what threshold levels need to be used when considering a pesticide treatment. Many hot links to timely university newsletter articles are included as part of the newsletter. At this point in time, over 400 people are receiving the "Crop Update" newsletter - with a survey indicating that this newsletter is forwarded to at least another 90 readers. Approximately one-third are agronomists/seed dealers/farm managers/lenders, etc.; the rest are crop producers. Most are located in NW Iowa, a few are regional agronomists - some managing agronomists from multiple states.
A survey was included as a part of the last issue in 2004. Twenty six readers responded to the survey. Of the respondents, 25 indicated on their survey that they made better agronomic or pest management decisions (or recommendations) because of information supplied by this newsletter, and the one who responded negatively noted two instances where he regretted not adopting management recommendations from the newsletter. Examples include better scouting for insects, soil fertility management improvements, managing weeds better with herbicides and rotary hoes, making effective hail replant decisions, improved planting techniques, more effective soybean aphid management, and others. One lenders replied that the newsletter keeps him and his customers informed (he forwards several copies of it). Several agronomists noted that this was very valuable in helping them make recommendations to their clients affecting several thousand acres. A producer noted that this newsletter kept him from spraying his soybean acres for aphids when all the neighbors were spraying. He indicated it was the right decision.
One question on the survey asked what effect these changes, made because of information gleaned from this newsletter, had on their operation (or their customer's operations because of agronomist recommendations using this information) in dollars per acre, and on how many acres. The nine respondents who fully answered this question had answers that ranged from $15/acre to $50/acre, and from 200 acres to 10,000 acres impacted. When multiplying each answer together and adding them up, the total of these nine responses was $217,010. In addition, one mentioned a dollar value per acre ($11.50), but did not list acres impacted although he indicated information was used on 10,000 acres he manages. Four others noted that indicating a value was difficult to do, but it impacted operations sized from 750 acres to 10,000 acres. One indicated that he saved $1600 by following the aphid treatment advice in the newsletter.
It seems that timely use of e-mail aids in the rapid distribution of research-based decision-making information, and effectively leverages the research-based information of Iowa State University Extension. This newsletter will continue, because it has great impact on decision-making in NW Iowa.
142 -- Integrated Pest and Crop Management
Page last updated:
July 9, 2006
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