December 1994 // Volume 32 // Number 4 // Ideas at Work // 4IAW2

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Turning Regulation Into Education

This Ideas at Work article features a tool (pesticide management log) which was developed to reinforce the management benefits of record keeping. Using new federal pesticide record keeping regulations as the "hook," the log is used by farm managers to record data required by the new law and other data useful for making management decisions. An evaluation of 101 users of the log indicated that managers are using the log to make management decisions regarding the use of pesticides.

Mike Hogan
Extension Agent and Assistant Professor
Agriculture and Natural Resources
Ohio State University Extension
Carrollton, Ohio
Internet address:

Ken Simeral
Extension Agent and Associate Professor
Agriculture and Natural Resources
Ohio State University Extension
Wintersville, Ohio
Internet address:

Beginning with the 1993 growing season, farm managers in the U.S. have been required by law to keep detailed records of their use of restricted pesticides. Instead of approaching this as yet another example of government regulation, we viewed the situation as a teachable moment.

We developed a Pesticide Record Keeping and Management Log to use as a "hook" to teach pesticide management and safety and farm management. The log provides farm managers with a section to record specific information required by the new law, and also features a section on pesticide use management data.

The management section of the log helps farm managers to evaluate the cost and effectiveness of their pest management strategies. Information on pesticides used, product costs, organic matter levels, soil types, and tillage methods are recorded and evaluated in this section. In addition to using this information to make management decisions, data of this type would also be useful should legal questions arise regarding the manager's pesticide use.

We began distributing the log to licensed pesticide applicators at pesticide recertification schools in a three-county area during the winter of 1993. During these training sessions, we discussed the new record keeping requirements and stressed the management benefits of record keeping. The point we tried to make was that the physical activity of record keeping was of little value, but that utilizing those records to make management decisions was the real payoff.

To find out how farm managers used the log during the 1993 growing season, we conducted a follow-up "post-card" survey when the growing season ended. Surveys were mailed to 101 farm managers who received the log at a pesticide recertification school or from their Extension office.

A total of 66 farm managers returned completed surveys. All farm managers who responded to the survey indicated that they already had (or were planning to) utilize data in the log to make management decisions regarding their pest management strategies.

We have also encountered situations where we've seen first-hand how managers are utilizing the log. Recently when meeting with a farm manager to diagnose a corn germination problem, completed logs kept by the manager were a key to determining that the problem was not related to pesticide use.

During the past two growing seasons, several hundred of these logs have been distributed to farm managers. By developing the log, we were able to capitalize on a regulatory activity to reinforce the management benefits of record-keeping.