Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Water Quality Slide Sets Being Used on a Wide Scale

Back in 2012, the Western IPM Center supported a Signature Program to develop educational material to prevent pesticides from entering surface and groundwater. The authors, from four Western states, developed PowerPoint slides sets for trainers to use in presentations to the agricultural industry, to landscape professionals, or to homeowners. The slides were posted on-line in January 2013, for free, but we asked for name, email, employer, city and state to gather evaluation information.

There were 106 total downloads and several individuals downloaded more than one slide set. People from 20 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and one Canadian providence downloaded slides with the top states being 41 downloads in California, nine in Oregon, five in Idaho, and four each in Hawaii, Iowa, North Dakota and New York. People from universities, extension, or county agriculture commissioners offices downloaded slide sets 39 times; agricultural and landscape industries 28 times; city, county, state or federal government agencies 18 times; and water quality control boards or waterkeeper groups eight times.

Survey and results
In April 2014, a survey was sent to 89 individuals who had downloaded at least one of the three slide sets. Six emails were returned undeliverable. There were 12 responses for a response rate of 14.5%. The questions and responses are summarized below.

1. Why did you download the Water Quality Protection Slide set from the Western IPM Center? (multiple answers allowed)
50% (6/12)      to prepare for a presentation
25% (3/12)      to share with colleagues
17% (2/12)      for my own personal education  
42% (5/12)      curious to see what information was covered in the slides
0%                   other

2. Which Water Quality Protection Slide set(s) did you download? (multiple answers allowed)
75% (9/12)      Water Quality Protection Measures for Agriculture
66.7 % (8/12)  Water Quality Protection Measures for Landscape Professionals
66.7% (8/12)   Water Quality Protection Measures for Homeowners
3. Did you increase your knowledge on the use of pesticide handling best management practices to protect water quality?
75% (9/12) Yes                        17% (2/12) No             8% (1/12) Did not answer

4. Did you change your pesticide handling practices as a result of the information presented in the Water Quality Protection Slides?
0% Yes                         33.3% (4/12) No                     66.7% (8/12) Not applicable
5. If yes, how did you change your pesticide handling practices?
One person who answered “No” explained that he/she was using the slides to make sure he/she was doing everything possible to keep pesticides out of water resources.

6. Did you give a presentation using the slide set?
25% (3/12)      Yes, gave a presentation using all or most of the slide set
25% (3/12)      Yes, gave a presentation using some of the slides in the set
50% (6/12)      No

7. Which Water Quality Protection Slide set(s) did you use for the presentation? (multiple answers allowed)
50% (3/6)        Water Quality Protection Measures for Agriculture
66.7% (4/6)     Water Quality Protection Measures for Landscape Professionals
16.7% (1/6)     Water Quality Protection Measures for Homeowners
8. If you used all or parts of the slide set for presentation(s), to whom did you give the presentation(s) and how many people attended?
Commercial applicators - about 250
Presentation to Pest Control Businesses - 52
Undergraduate students - 30
Iowa Certified Handlers – 200
Iowa Seed Treatment Continuing Instructional Course - 800
To a group of about 100 municipal staffers.  Mostly parks and rec maintenance workers
Landscape and turf management professionals

9. If you gave a presentation, did the audience members increase their knowledge of pesticide handling best management practices to protect water quality?
66.7% (4/6) Yes                       33.3% (2/6) of presenters No
10. If yes, how did the audience members say they increased their knowledge of pesticide handling practices?
‘Yes’ answers based on anecdotal evidence.
‘No’ answers based on acknowledging a lack of evaluation data.

11. If you gave a presentation, did the audience members indicate plans to change their pesticide handling practices in order to protect water quality?
50% (3/6)        Yes
33% (2/6)        No
17 % (1/6)       No answer
12. If yes, how did the audience members say they planned to change their pesticide handling practices?
‘Yes’ answers based on anecdotal evidence.

13. Did the slide set meet your needs?
100% (12/12)  Yes

14. If no, how could they be improved to meet your needs?
 There were no answers to this question
15. Is there any additional feedback you would like to give the Western IPM Center regarding the Water Quality Protection Slide Sets?
 “Very nice quality. I would suggest doing a color commentary audio narrated version video clip of the presentations. Use Camtasia or Adobe Presenter. This would be targeted at the presenter and not necessarily towards the end user.”

“Thanks for putting together those slide sets. They were helpful for self-study for our grounds maintenance crew at the County.”

“Didn't like the red banners in the Ag slide set.”

“Thank you for sharing!”

“The slides are a good educational resource, I didn't end up using them because they were a little too basic for my purposes. I work for the water quality regulatory agency, so I am glad these presentations are available for others because these are the basic principles we are trying to educate about to prevent water quality problems.”
The response rate was 14.5%, which may have been influenced by the time between the release of the slide sets and the survey. The survey was planned to give people sufficient time to have given a presentation prior to the survey. However, 15 months may have been too long. Most of the survey responses (10/12) were from people who downloaded more than one slide set. While this is not representative of the whole group, it does capture data from those most interested in the water quality protection topic.

Most of the respondents increased their knowledge of water quality protection during pesticide application but were not responsible for applying pesticides. This is not surprising since the slides sets were intended to “train-the-trainers.” Half of the respondents gave a presentation using “most” or “some” of the slide sets. Two-thirds gave presentations to landscape professionals and half gave presentations to agricultural groups. Presentations on protecting water quality from pesticides reached more than 1,400 audience members. Presenters responded that audience members increased their knowledge of water quality protection measures and would change their pesticide handling practices, however all responses were based on anecdotal evidence.

In conclusion, the water quality slide sets were downloaded by a large number of people across the United States. Based on self-evaluation, the slide sets increased the knowledge of the majority of people who downloaded them. Those who gave presentations based on the slide sets did not have evaluation data to demonstrate the audience members either increased their knowledge or would change practices, but did have anecdotal evidence to suggest this was the case. All of the survey respondents stated the slide set met their needs.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

New Applied Research & Development Grants Stress Regional Priorities and Collaboration

The USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture's new Crop Protection and Pest Management request for proposals has several important changes that affect IPM researchers in the West.

For one, Regional IPM grants have been replaced by a new Applied Research and Development Program designed to support projects from single or multiple investigators for the development of new IPM tactics, technologies, practices and strategies. Unlike the RIPM grants, proposals submitted under the new program are evaluated by a single review panel in  Washington, D.C. and are not evaluated by panels convened by the Regional IPM Centers.

Part of the reason is simple efficiency.

“From a work point-of-view, the RIPM grants were extremely difficult to administer,” explained Herb Bolton, a national program leader with NIFA. “If a project had both a research and extension component, money came from two different funding lines. RIPM required four RFAs, four panels and had separate funding sources. The new program has one RFA, one panel and one funding source.”

But that doesn’t mean regional priorities are now less important.  

“It’s really important to emphasize that these awards are still based on regional priorities,” Bolton said. “Applicants have to give specific stakeholder input that shows these priorities. Those could be through priority statements of the IPM Centers, or WERA-type groups and their committees. This requirement has been strengthened in the new RFA, and if somebody doesn’t come in with a strong regional focus and letters of support, they probably won’t do well.”  

The take-home message for applicants is to be more conscious then ever of documenting the stakeholder demand for their projects, particularly since some reviewers on a national panel won’t have knowledge of regional pest issues. The RFA provides links and sources for stakeholder-identified IPM needs.

An Expectation of Cooperation
Another new aspect of the Applied Research and Development grants is a much greater emphasis on regional cooperation.

“We’re expecting recipients to be active in participating in activities in their region,” Bolton said. “It’s a new emphasis, an expectation of increased coordination and cooperation, so we can leverage the few dollars we have for pest management more effectively.”

The Regional IPM Centers will play an important role in that part of the program. Each Center will organize a meeting for the Applied Research and Development project directors in their regions, and the project directors are required, as part of their grants, to attend.

“We’ve never told an award recipient that they are required to participate in a WERA or IPM Center meeting before for the goal of increased communication, coordination and collaboration,” Bolton said. “We’re giving the Centers the authority to be a little more active with some folks. It’s a chance for greater cooperation and input from the Centers.”

(The Crop Protection and Pest Management request for proposals also contains grants for an Extension Implementation Program Area, and a Regional Coordination Program Area. The latter funds the four Regional IPM Centers, and the Western IPM Center is preparing its application for that grant to continue to serve the West.) 

For the Applied Research and Development grants, request maximums are $125,000 for a project with a project director or directors from one state, and $250,000 for projects with directors in multiple states. Bolton stressed those are maximums, not suggested amounts.

 “If someone wants to come in with a smaller project, they can,” he said. “We encourage applications of all budget sizes.”

NIFA anticipates making up to 30 awards, and proposals are due June 19. You can download the request for applications here

Pest Management Strategic Plan Pays Off Quickly for Northwest Pears

If anybody doubts the power of grower input or a new Pest Management Strategic Plan to influence research, look no further than the “Pear Psylla Summit” being planned this summer at Washington State University.

The summit is a direct result of the new PMSP for pears on Oregon and Washington, and the needs for Northwest growers to better manage the pear psylla. Entomologist Elizabeth Beers from WSU is organizing the summit, which is tentatively scheduled for July.

“It’ll be just entomologists and focused really on just this one pest, with the understanding that management of one pest relates to others,” Beers said. “The idea is to develop a research agenda and identify specifically where we need to go with our research, then talk about which labs want to take which part of the plan.”

Controlling pear psylla while also preserving pollinators and other beneficial insects emerged as one key pest-management challenges for growers in the five pear-growing regions of Washington and Oregon. (Other pests highlighted in the report were coddling moth, mites and fire blight, and the report also stressed the need to develop dwarf pear rootstocks.)

To prepare the PMSP, Joe DeFrancesco and Katie Murray of the Oregon State Integrated Plant Protection Center conducted grower workshops in each of the areas.

“In each region, people showed up and shared their concerns,” Murray said. “They were interested in the process and seemed grateful someone was hearing their needs and concerns.”

The result of those meetings was a 99-page document that established critical needs industry-wide, and region-specific needs for each of the five growing areas, which range from the Okanogan area in north-central Washington to the Medford area of southern Oregon.

Jim McFerson, manager of the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission which provided initial funding for the plan, said growers saw the benefits of the meetings.

“Sometimes it’s off-putting for a lot of our producers to go to one more meeting, one more strategic planning session,” he said. “But I think this process was beneficial for everybody and growers saw that strategic planning really does contribute and is not just blah-blah-blah.”

The PMSP, which the Western IPM Center also helped fund, was completed in earlier this year. McFerson said it hasn’t generated new Commission-funded research projects yet – but it will.

“I’m looking forward to the other projects that come out of this one,” he said. “We sure intend to use it, and hopefully solve a few problems.”

You can view the full plan here