June 1998 // Volume 36 // Number 3 // Feature Articles // 3FEA3

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Factors Influencing Adoption and Educational Outreach of Integrated Pest Management

Surveys of tree fruit and small grains producers were undertaken to assist the Utah IPM Program with more effectively targeting its outreach efforts. Some differences in responses of the two grower groups can be explained by grower background and past intensity of Extension IPM outreach efforts. The survey revealed that greater consideration should be given to grower background (part-time versus full-time, farm size, market destination), perceptions of pest problems, current use of IPM, and preferences for educational formats.

Diane G. Alston
Associate Professor and Extension IPM Coordinator
Internet address: dianea@ext.usu.edu

Michael E. Reding
Extension IPM Project Leader
Internet address: miker@ext.usu.edu

Department of Biology
Utah State University
Logan, Utah

Successful Extension education outreach programs are based on a solid understanding of the needs of the targeted audience and the use of appropriate techniques to disseminate the needed information. This study was undertaken to assist the Utah integrated pest management (IPM) program with effectively targeting its outreach efforts. We needed to determine key producer/farm background characteristics that may influence adoption, current use of IPM, perceived impediments to adoption, and preference for education delivery techniques. Data were obtained from surveys mailed to two agricultural producer groups (tree fruits and small grains) during 1996.

IPM is defined as a sustainable approach to managing pests by combining biological, cultural, physical, and chemical tools in a way that minimizes economic, health, and environmental risks (National Coalition on Integrated Pest Management, 1994). The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) IPM initiative has set a goal of implementing IPM on 75% of the U.S. crop lands by the year 2000. USDA has charged state Extension IPM coordinators with the tasks of promoting and measuring IPM adoption of agricultural producers and practitioners in an attempt to reach this goal.

The crops surveyed were selected based on their regional importance, differences in history of Utah Extension involvement in IPM efforts, and intensity of pest problems. The project was conducted as part of a northwestern region IPM survey effort in which economically important crops to this region were selected for study. In Utah, tree fruits have been the focus of Extension IPM efforts for about 15 years, have numerous pests which require intensive management, and have a well developed industry organization. In contrast, small grains have not been a focus of Utah IPM education, do not have an organized state industry association, and in general, have less pest pressure.


One questionnaire was mailed to 260 Utah tree fruit growers on 1 March, 1996 and a second was mailed to 1,700 Utah field crops producers from late November to early December, 1996. Tree fruit survey respondents provided information on 1994 and 1995 growing seasons, and small grains producers responded for 1995 and 1996 seasons. Results are presented as percentage of survey respondents. Statistical comparisons (Proc Freq in SAS: Chisquare, P=0.05) (SAS Institute, version 6.10) were made for some responses between major source of income groups (on-farm versus off-farm) and between size classes of grain acreage produced (< or >100 acres of wheat and barley).


The response rate for the tree fruit survey was 26.5%, however, total acres reported represented 48% of the state's total bearing tree fruit acreage. The response rate for the small grains survey was 15.5% which represented 19% of the harvested small grain acres (Utah Agricultural Statistics Service, 1997).

Producer and Farm Background

The major producer and/or farm characteristics obtained from the survey that may influence IPM adoption are reported in Table 1. Comparisons between primary source of income groups revealed that a significantly greater percentage of full-time than part- time fruit survey respondents marketed their fruit out-of-state (44% with primarily on-farm income versus 16% with primarily off- farm income) and sold wholesale (70% on-farm versus 25% off- farm). There were no differences in product marketing (in- versus out-of-state and processing, feed or seed) between income groups for small grains producers responding to the survey.

Table 1
Producer and farm characteristics that
may influence likelihood of IPM adoption

Producer/Farm Characteristic Tree Fruits Small Grains
Mean farm size 83 acres 779 acres
Produce crops other than those targeted in survey 23% 86%
Primary source of income from farm 35% 69%
Farm family-operated* 63% 74%
Market products within the sta 65% 84%
*Farm operated by primary operator plus one or more family members.

Major Pest Management Practices

Insects and weeds were the most economically important pests for tree fruit and small grain survey respondents, respectively. Numerous chemical and non-chemical pest management practices were used by both groups. Practices that were used three or more times per season by more than 50% of the tree fruit survey respondents were insecticides (92%), pest scouting (65%), and orchard sanitation (62%; e.g., pruning, flailing dropped fruit). In addition, 46% of fruit survey respondents used pest phenology models (temperature- and pest activity-based models) to time controls for their most important pests. Although significantly more full-time fruit growers considered some pests (diseases, mites, weeds, and vertebrate pests), of greater importance than part-time growers, more full-time fruit growers used non- and low -chemical tactics (pest scouting, spot chemical treatments, ground covers to enhance beneficials, and resistant varieties).than part-time growers.

Pest management practices used at least two times per season by more than 50% of respondents to the small grains survey were field scouting (65%) and deep tilling/cultivation (57%). When targeting their most important pests, the majority of respondents used crop rotation (94%), certified seed (74%), and chemicals (70%). Chemical controls were not used more than once per season by most grain growers. The most frequently applied grain pesticides were pre-emergent herbicides. Farm size influenced the perception of survey respondents to severity of pests. Wheat and barley survey respondents who produced >100 acres considered diseases and insects more frequent problems than producers of smaller acreage; however, there were few differences in use of pest management practices between farm size and source of income groups.

Most fruit and grain survey respondents perceived numerous impediments to using non-chemical tactics for pest management (Table 2). Fruit grower respondents rated all obstacles provided in the survey as a problem more frequently than grain growers. Despite the high perception of impediments by all survey respondents, the majority were interested in using non-chemical tactics (Table 2), and many do as presented above. Survey respondents with primary income from off-farm sources perceived some impediments (difficulty of use, lack of knowledge, lower level of control, and shorter protection) more frequently than full-time growers.

Table 2
Grower perceived impediments to use of non-chemical
alternatives for pest management.

Perceived impediment Percent of survey respondents who perceived impediment was a problem
Tree fruits Small grains
Lack of knowledge/information 94 85
Higher cost 100 61
Higher risk 98 50
Lower level of control 98 66
Shorter protection interval 95 47
Difficult to use 87 61
Greater time and labor -* 61
Lower quantity of yield - 55
Lower quality of yield - 50
Not interested in using 49 33
*Impediment choice not included in tree fruit survey.

IPM Information and Education

The local Extension agent or office was the preferred source of pest management information for all respondents to both surveys (Table 3). In addition to Extension, all survey respondents frequently used other growers, themselves or a trained employee for information. Grain growers also relied heavily on agricultural chemical dealers, more so than fruit growers. Few respondents in either survey used private crop consultants or commodity/packing house representatives. Significantly more part-time than full-time fruit growers responding to the survey used chemical dealers as a source of information, whereas this relationship was reversed for grain survey respondents.

Table 3
Sources of pest management information
used by fruit and grain growers

Information source Percent of respondents
Tree fruits Small grains
Extension agent/office 88 87
Agric. chemical dealer 55 82
Other growers 72 80
Yourself/trained employee 71 70
Local university 34 51
Commodity/packing house rep. 23 29
Private crop/pest consultant 12 16

Survey respondents showed a preference for the format in which pest management information was made available (Table 4). For on-going educational programs, Extension and industry publications and workshops and conferences were the preferred formats for respondents to both surveys. For quick access to pest advisory information, Extension publications were again preferred. Fruit survey respondents rated a telephone-tip-service as their second preference. Computer access and radio and television programs were the least preferred formats for obtaining information.

Table 4
Preferences by fruit and grain growers
for formats of pest management educational programs
(for on-going programs and quick access to pest warnings)

Information format Percent of survey respondents who would use format
Tree fruits Small grains
On-going Quick access On-going Quick access
Extension publications 72 60 95 95
Industry publications 57 43 94 91
Workshops/conferences 65 40 91 87
Telephone tip service 35 51 -* -*
Computer access 20 22 57 57
Radio 22 34 51 57
Television 17 20 45 46
*Information format not included in small grains survey.

Impediments to accessing information on pests were not perceived as a problem by most survey respondents (Table 5). Tree fruit survey respondents were more aware of IPM programs than grain survey respondents. However, 22% of tree fruit survey respondents reported a lack of confidence in information as compared to only 8% of grain growers.

Table 5
Perceived impediments to accessing IPM information
on tree fruit or small grains pests

Perceived impediment Percent of survey respondents
Tree fruits Small grains
Not aware of programs or information 26 44
Low availability 22 21
Lack of confidence in information 22 8
Difficult to access informatiom 14 17
High cost 6 9
Programs/information not helpful 5 3


Some important characteristics of producers and farms that likely influence adoption of IPM and participation in educational programs are major source of income (on-farm or off-farm), market destination, farm size, and diversity of crops produced. In addition, the past intensity of Extension IPM outreach efforts and development of commodity organizations also likely influence grower perceptions of Extension and IPM programs.

In this study, all survey respondents relied heavily on Extension sources for pest management information, although tree fruit respondents were more aware of IPM programs and information than small grain respondents. Grain growers also obtained information from agricultural chemical dealers almost as frequently as from Extension. In Utah, the tree fruit industry has been targeted with Extension IPM programs for about 15 years, whereas, IPM has not been the emphasis in Extension small grains programs. In addition, many Utah grain farms are in rural counties where contacts with Extension and industry organizations may not be as frequent as for fruit growers who are concentrated in more urban counties.

Major source of income and farm size (analyzed for grain producers only) had an influence on perceptions of survey respondents to severity of pest problems and use of IPM. In general, full-time producers and larger grain producers (>100 acres wheat and barley) who responded to the survey considered more pests as economically important than part-time and smaller producers. However, full-time fruit survey respondents used non- and low-chemical pest management tactics more frequently than part-time respondents, including pest scouting (87% for full-time growers versus 54% for part-time growers). Producers who receive their major income from the farm likely put greater effort into pest management education, are more exposed to Extension and industry information, conduct more economic analysis of pest management choices, and scout for pests more frequently. Thus, full-time growers may perceive pests as a greater economic drain on their resources than do part-time growers.

Market destination and crop value also likely influence adoption of IPM. Although numerous non-chemical tactics were used by the majority of tree fruit and small grain survey respondents, 92% of fruit respondents still applied three or more insecticide treatments per season to their orchards. This finding likely reflects the intensity and severity of many fruit pests, the relatively high crop value ($2,288 per acre for apples versus $183 per acre for wheat in 1996) (Utah Agricultural Statistics Service, 1997), the perennial nature of fruit trees, and the perceived or real expectations for high fruit quality demands at the market. Such concerns were also evident in strong perceptions of impediments to use of non-chemical tactics by fruit survey respondents (by > 95% of respondents), such as high cost and risk, lower level of control, and shorter protection interval. Less frequent use of pesticides and greater use of non-chemical tactics, along with less concerns about use of non-chemical options were observed for small grains survey respondents.

In conclusion, in our efforts to reach grower audiences with Extension IPM education programs, greater consideration should be given to grower and farm background, perceptions of pest problems, current use of IPM practices, and preferences for educational formats. Growers in both survey groups responded positively to IPM and data suggest that comprehensive IPM programs targeting other commodities should be received favorably by the majority of producers. Information gathered in this study will assist with design of future IPM outreach programs.


National Coalition on Integrated Pest Management. (1994). Toward a goal of 75 percent cropland under IPM by 2000. Austin, TX.

Utah Agricultural Statistics Service. (1997). 1997 Utah agricultural statistics and Utah department of agriculture and food annual report. Salt Lake City, UT.


Research funding for this study was provided by USDA CSREES IPM Special Project funds and Smith-Lever 3(d) formula funds for Utah. The authors would like to acknowledge Drs. Sherman V. Thomson, Jay B. Karren, Steven A. Dewey, Howard M. Deer, and Anthony H. Hatch, Utah State University, Logan, Utah, for assistance with development of survey questions.