Tree Fruit Research & Extension Center

Apple IPM Transition Project

Assessment & Documentation

In the sections below we outline a methodology for project evaluation. These include direct measure of IPM practices, including pesticide use, surveys assessing how information is received and attitudes and perceptions changed, and an economic analysis using TEAM to determine the value of new IPM programs. These measurements will be provided through interim reports and publications as well as in the Project’s final report. The Project Manager will have expertise in IPM practices, data analysis and communications. The Project Assessment Specialist will have expertise in program assessment, such as surveys and focus groups, and associated quantitative and qualitative data analysis.

Environmental Health Assessment

Despite IPM’s assumed beneficial impact on the environment, documenting that impact is a challenge. For example, assessment of beneficial insects, while instructive, is only one aspect of environmental health in the agroecosystem. The apple Pest Management Transition Project, as funded, lacks resources to conduct in-depth environmental assessments on wildlife, water quality, beneficial insects, ecological diversity, soil health, etc. However, we propose to develop a preliminary impact index using acute and chronic toxicity to aquatic invertebrates, birds, and fish based on the concept developed by the Environmental Impact Quotient (EIQ) (http://www.nysipm.cornell.edu/publications/eiq/) and on input from the Advisory Committee. Such a metric can provide a platform for subsequent studies.

Farm Workers' Perceptions & Needs

Pesticide exposure, or risk of exposure, remains a principal orchard workplace issue. Although we will not directly measure human health effects, we will gain insight on farm workers’ knowledge of new technologies (including associated health effects and risks), their sources of information about these technologies, their preferred means of information dissemination, and their perceptions of new pest management approaches. We will also seek stakeholder input on how the farm worker community receives new information and the sources they trust most. We will use focus groups, interviews, and surveys to learn how information is best presented and to document changes in perception and understanding. An important outcome will be the identification of appropriate mechanisms for providing information to farm workers on the value of IPM in reducing exposure risks.

IPM Adoption Assessment

Measures of IPM adoption have focused on changes in practices, e.g., kinds and amounts of pesticides used. The 2007 National Agriculture Statistics Service will provide data on pesticide use in apple production but will not assess adoption of other IPM practices. Therefore, the Project Manager and Project Assessment Specialist will conduct additional surveys on details of IPM adoption: pest control technologies used, timing, programmatic strategies employed, monitoring activities and models used. Efficiency of farm labor could be a prime motivator to adopt new practices so we will concurrently document changes in farm labor utilization. The Technology Economic Assessment Model (TEAM) will be used to measure economic impact of practice, material, and management change. TEAM is web-based and available to individual producers/practitioners.

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