Production, Pests, Profitability – Neighborhood On-Farm Education for Field Corn and Alfalfa

Date: 

2015

Summary: 

An on-farm IPM (integrated pest management) education program was initiated with field corn and alfalfa farmers to teach sound pest and crop management decision-making and to improve farm profitability while protecting the environment. Extension efforts of the Livestock and Field Crops Team of the NYS IPM Program focus on the use of on-farm education in small learning groups. These groups, were called Pest, Production and Profit (Triple P) teams met at local farms once a month basis over the course of the growing season. On-farm locations for field meetings enabled direct observation of disease, insect, and weed pest outbreaks, assisted farmer participants with making economically and environmentally viable management decisions, and encouraged farmers’ interest in pest identification and discussion of management options. As a result of their participation in Triple P teams in 2016, 14 participants from 14 farms in 2 counties in New York State “will implement or will try to implement” integrated pest management (IPM) and integrated crop management (ICM) on at least 100% of the 11,000 acres of corn and alfalfa that they own and manage.

Issue: 

Integrated pest management (IPM) and integrated crop management (ICM) are key factors to becoming more profitable. NY Farmers have indicated they want to learn more about many of the issues pest and crop management issues. In a 2007 NYS Farm Viability survey field crop producers identified a number of barriers and challenges. The barrier that ranked highest to profitability was high input costs of production. Other challenges identified were pesticide resistance to weeds, diseases and insect pests; soil erosion, compaction and reduction of soil health. Plus needing more information on “production management changes” like nutrient management, crop disease and pest resistance and soil health issues. Better selection and more efficient use of production inputs (variety selection, production practices, testing and fertilizer selection & use, scouting and pesticide use, herbicide banding, timing of practices and field operations) will be addressed in this program. The Cornell Field Crops Program Work Team conducted a statewide assessment (Jan, 2013) on producer needs. Topics identified as high priority included: information on corn diseases and fungicide use, nitrogen management, using manure, harvest timing of forages, selecting cultivars, seeding dates/rates and depths, and resistance management for corn rootworm. A third needs assessment (Dec. 2013) was conducted by the NYS IPM program for pest related issues statewide. The highest field corn and alfalfa priorities identified were: pesticide resistance management strategies for all pests, weed management, foliar disease issues in field corn determining the value, constraints and economic return of foliar fungicides, and the evaluation of risk potential and impacts of new invasive or exotic pests such as western bean cutworm, and management of above and alfalfa below ground insect pests, weeds, and diseases. One of the highest priorities identified was the need for “IPM Educational Outreach to enhance knowledge, use and adoption of IPM approaches to better managing pests of field crop and livestock in New York.”

Response: 

Triple P was designed to be an on-farm educational program with experiential, hands-on, small group, training program for field crop producers in NY. Implementing recommended integrated pest management (IPM) and integrated crop management (ICM) best management practices enabled producers to better protect environmental quality and enhance their long-term economic viability. The on-farm program taught alfalfa and field corn producers basic and proven techniques to better manage those crops, increase yields/quality and profitability, while protecting the environment. Participants were actively engaged in a growing-season-long program that focused on the timely collection, analysis and use of on-farm field data combined with strategic field meetings to review and discuss critical pest and crop management issues and opportunities that arisen during the growing season. Triple P was successful in encouraging participants to learn, use and adopt IPM and ICM strategies. Implementing recommended IPM and ICM best management practices enables producers to better protect environmental quality and enhance their long-term economic viability. Impacts of the program were measured by pre- and post-testing of subject matter and an exit survey to determine the percentage of adoption of IPM and ICM practices taught to producers and documented potential economic impacts realized through participation in the program.

Impact: 

At the completion of the Triple P program, producers answered an average of 78% of the same questions correctly. This was a 30% increase from the pre-test. As a result of their participation in Triple P teams in 2016, 100% of 14 participants in Livingston and Franklin Counties from 14 farms in 2 counties in New York State “will implement or will try to implement” IPM and ICM practices on the 11,000 acres of corn and alfalfa that they own and manage. An important factor is that 100% of the participant stated that they “will implement or will try to implement” scouting and thresholds into their farming operations. Using scouting and thresholds helps you make educated decisions on pesticide use and thus will only spray if needed helping with their profitability and contributing to the protection of the environment and human health.

Submitted by: 

  • Wise, Kenneth L

Researchers involved: 

  • Wise, Kenneth L
  • Stanyard, Michael J
  • Waldron, John K
  • Kitty , O'Neil

International focus: 

  • United States of America

United States focus: 

  • New York

New York State focus: 

  • Franklin
  • Livingston