February 1997 // Volume 35 // Number 1 // Feature Articles // 1FEA1

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Developing an Extension Pest Management Program Using the Needs-Assessment Process

Designing and improving integrated pest management (IPM) programs requires baseline information and clintele-driven needs assessment about key pests. A multi-phased sequence of needs assessment programs included: (a) identification of the key insect, weed, and disease problems, (b) prioritizing identified pest problems and, (c) developing an action plan, was used to develop a cereal grains IPM program in Montana. This process promoted dialog between clientele, researchers, and Extension personnel, allowed identification of barriers to IPM implementation, and involved clientele in the program development process.

Sue L. Blodgett
Integrated Pest Management Coordinator
Department of Entomology
Montana State University
Bozeman, Montana
Internet address: ueysb@msu.oscs.montana.edu

Gregory Johnson, Head
Department of Entomology
Montana State University
Bozeman, Montana
Internet address: ueygj@msu.oscs.montana.edu

William P. Kemp, Research Leader
U.S.Department of Agriculture
Agricultural Research Service
Rangeland Insect Laboratory
Sidney, Montana
Internet address: kemp@ril.usda.montana.edu

James K. Sands
State Statistician
Iowa Agricultural Statistics Service
Des Moines, Iowa
Internet address: jim_sands_at_nass-ia@nass.usda.gov

An Integrated Pest Management (IPM) initiative of the U.S. Department of Agriculture has a goal to develop and implement IPM on 75% of the total US crop acreage by the year 2000. The initiative involves farmers and practitioners in the development and assessment of IPM programs with a goal of increasing the use of IPM systems that enable farmers to achieve both economic and environmental benefits.

A multi-phased sequence of needs-assessment programs was used to develop a cereal grains IPM program in Montana, integrating prioritized research and Extension goals. A three step series of surveys and workshops, was conducted to: (a) identify the key insect, weed, and disease problems, (b) prioritize identified pest problems and, (c) develop an action plan with specific research and Extension goals. Additionally, this process promoted dialog between clientele, researchers, and Extension personnel, allowed identification of barriers to IPM implementation, and involved clientele in the program development process.

Step 1

Key insect and disease pests were identified by Montana producers through a survey conducted with cooperation of Montana Agricultural Statistics Service (MASS), USDA Agricultural Research Service Rangeland Insect Laboratory and Montana State University Department of Entomology. Questionnaires were distributed by MASS with the September Agricultural Survey (SAS) and with the Acreage and Production Survey (A&P). The SAS sampled 1,800 farmers and ranchers by telephone, while the A&P survey sampled 12,000 farmers; 6,000 by telephone and 6,000 by mail. During the phone surveys producers were asked to complete a series of questions. The same questions were sent via a mail survey and followed three weeks later with a reminder notice.

Respondents were asked to rate crop damage attributed to insect and disease pests provided in the following categories: none; light (10% or less acres affected); moderate (11-50% acres affected); and heavy (>50% of acres affected). Insect and disease pests were specified, although an 'other' category was provided.

A total of 2,500 questionnaires were returned representing 27, 28, and 25% of the total state's acreages of winter wheat, spring wheat (including durum), and barley, respectively. Results were summarized and projected on state acreages of the appropriate crop by adjusting the total acreage of each crop by the percent acreage reported in each damage category (Table 1). Wheat stem sawfly, grasshoppers, wheat streak mosaic virus, and cutworms were ranked by producers surveyed, one through four, respectively as the most damaging insect and disease pests.

Table 1 Potential Impact of Insect and Disease Pests on Total Small Grain Acreage in Montana
Projected State Acreage Affected (in 1000 acres)
Pest & Crop None Light Moderate Heavy
Wheat stem sawfly
Winter wheat 1,155 363 272 161
Spring wheat 2,765 596 157 62
Total 3,920 959 429 223
Winter wheat 1,268 463 150 70
Spring wheat 2,526 729 219 106
Barley 1,013 200 48 38
Total 4,807 1,392 417 214
Wheat streak mosaic virus
Winter wheat 1,428 364 112 45
Spring wheat 2,950 439 136 55
Total 4,378 803 247 101
Winter wheat 1,515 272 90 73
Spring wheat 3,371 172 21 16
Total 1,887 443 110 89

Step 2

Implementation teams were formed in Montana, Idaho, Nebraska, Wyoming, and North and South Dakota to identify pest complexes and coordinate the development and implementation of IPM efforts. A series of strategic planning workshops were funded by USDA, CSREES, IPM Initiative phase I through a multi-state project and MSU IPM-ES program. Leaders from each state's implementation team joined with local producers, county Extension faculty, Agricultural Experiment Station researchers, and agricultural consultants at three regional meetings to develop a user-driven strategic plan for pest management in the northern Great Plains and Intermountain dryland wheat cropping system.

The goal of each workshop was to identify local research, technology, and educational needs for IPM implementation. A summary of the three workshops was used to develop a region-wide program. Consensus-driven strategic planning was applied as an iterative process that identified and prioritized pest management issues, and developed plans of action to address critical issues resulting in identification of research and Extension goals and objectives. As a result of this process key insect, disease, and weed pests were identified (Table 2) and six objectives were identified for IPM research and education efforts:

  1. Cropping systems approach to pest management
  2. Diversified crop rotation systems
  3. Crop residue management program
  4. IPM training and education
  5. Farm policy programs - federal, state, and local
  6. Measuring IPM profitability

Table 2. Key insect, disease, and weeds identified through the Strategic Planning Process.
Insects Diseases Weeds
wheat stem sawfly wheat streak mosaic wild oats
grasshoppers Septoria Kochia
wheat curl mite take all tansy mustard
cereal aphids dryland root rot cheatgrass
cutworms Cephalosporium buckwheat
tan spot jointed goatgrass

Step 3

As a result of the survey conducted (Step 1) the wheat stem sawfly was determined to be the most damaging insect pest of Montana small grain crop production. The Strategic Planning Process (Step 2) determined research and Extension approaches, recommended for IPM systems development and implementation in the region. A Strategic Planning Workshop was used to focus specifically on wheat stem sawfly. The goal was to identify research and Extension needs for wheat stem sawfly management in Montana and develop a specific action plan for their implementation. Participants filled out a sensing survey prior to the meeting.

At the meeting, results were tabulated, discussed, and issues related to wheat stem sawfly were identified. Once issues were identified, they were clarified, prioritized, and an action plan developed. The three most important issues, identified by participants were (a) development of management strategies (b) research and demonstration programs directed at practical management of sawfly, (c) identify a coordinator and advisory committee for the Montana wheat stemsawfly research and Extension program.

The multi-phased strategic planning process has resulted in a coordinated cereal grains research and extension program in Montana. Producers have actively participated in the identification pest management issues, their prioritization, and development of an action plan with desired outputs described. Additionally, this process was integrated with the USDA, CSREES, IPM phase I Initiative and USDA, CSREES, IPM program to provide regional and local coordination.

There were other, less tangible benefits derived from the process. Improved understanding of institutional and private constraints, value placed on a variety of research and Extension programs, and an atmosphere of mutual respect and understanding was built between clientele and federal and state agencies charged with delivering to this audience.