Pesticide Applicator Training

Joel DeJong, crops field specialist

Continuing instruction for pesticide applicators is an on-going need and requirement. Since it is an annual mandatory program for those who want to continue to use restricted use pesticides, the verbal attitudes expressed by participants aren't always very positive. However, a large percentage continues to choose this method of certification instead of testing every three years. Can we make these programs educational for participants? Can we make an impact on their operations as a result of information presented to participants? I wanted to review our impact and determine if there are obvious needs for improvement and try to determine if the information provided actually changed their management of pesticides and pests.

Pesticide applicator continuing education programs were scheduled in all seven counties served by the crop specialist in NW Iowa during 2002-03. Twenty-six face-to-face sessions were held in these counties. In order to make these sessions as useful as a possible for participants, particular time was spent planning for the integrated crop management parts of the program.

There were 2,313 participants at these sites in the seven NW counties of Iowa (about 40 less than we had attend in the 1998-99 season). An evaluation form was handed out at several of the early meetings to gauge how we were doing and what impact these meetings were having. Responses from these evaluations (N = 260) were very positive. Ninety-eight percent of participants gave the program an overall positive rating with 59 percent as excellent and 39 percent as good. When asked if they agreed with the statement, "Was the information presented today useful on your farm operation?" 99 percent agreed that this statement was true. Ninety-nine percent considered the presenters prepared and knowledgeable.

The first segment of the survey asked if, as a result of the training session, will they adopt certain practices on their farm. Here are the percentage responses:

Practice Adopted

No Answer Prior to Mtg: Because of Mtg. Won't adopt

1. Notify owners of registered bee yards of pesticide application toxic to bees:

26% 33% 41% 0%

2. Observe setbacks from water sources when mixing, spraying, etc.:

7% 67% 25% 1%

3. Use drift reduction nozzles on your sprayer:

5% 49% 42% 4%

4. Use a wind meter, reduce spray pressure or increase nozzle size to reduce drift:

4% 27% 57% 12%

5. Monitor for bean leaf beetles or western bean cutworm problems:

10% 35% 46% 8%

A fifth question asked if they would change practices for management of potato leafhopper in alfalfa. For those that had alfalfa and had not adopted either scouting or using tolerant varieties, 60 percent said they would now start adopting these practices as result of these sessions.

It is also nice to see if impacts occur from previous training sessions, so some questions were asked about changes made because of the same program last year. As a result of the 2001-02 PAT CIC program, 83 percent review the storage and disposal section of the label prior to pesticide use, 60 percent keep an inventory of products in storage, 57 percent now consider water solubility of pesticides when deciding which products to use, 47 percent have implemented conservation practices to reduce loss of pesticides from their fields with soil movement, and almost all maintain pesticide records that meet legal requirements.

This program has had a large impact on farming practices in NW Iowa. As the data shows, the vast majority of farmers do feel these are valuable sessions. Additional time preparing and refining presentation material and skills can pay off. A lot of farmers are exposed to extension with this program, which can be a great "gateway" for them and other extension opportunitie. We need to be creative and positive when offering these programs - the impacts can be tremendous!

Page last updated: July 9, 2006
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