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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Reducing the Impact of Diseases on Hop Production

Location: Forage Seed and Cereal Research

Title: Concepts of sustainability, motivations for pest management approaches, and implications for communicating change

Authors
item Sherman, Jennifer -
item Gent, David

Submitted to: Plant Disease
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: May 13, 2014
Publication Date: August 1, 2014
Citation: Sherman, J., Gent, D.H. 2014. Concepts of sustainability, motivations for pest management approaches, and implications for communicating change. Plant Disease. 98(8):1024-1035.

Interpretive Summary: Effective communication with farmers is an essential component of impacting their decision processes and encouraging changes in pest management practices, but requires a system of research and extension management that differs from that to which most biological scientists are accustomed. We present a case-study based on surveys and in-depth interviews with hop and mint farmers and industry specialists in Washington and Oregon that examines farmers’ decision-making processes with regard to disease and pest prevention, and barriers and motivations for adoption of IPM practices for arthropod pest and disease management. Communication efforts are most effective and persuasive when scaffolded by a relationship with farmers and their advisers that is informed by and evinces respect for the complexity of factors that underlie their management decisions. Communicating changes in production practices seems destined to fail unless structured as a two-way process, where both researcher or extension agent and farmer has something to contribute. In this framework, researchers and extension personnel can learn much about farmers' situated pest management decisions and the fit of IPM innovations researchers wish to see adopted.

Technical Abstract: Effective communication with farmers is an essential component of impacting their decision processes and encouraging changes in pest management practices, but requires a system of research and extension management that differs from that to which most biological scientists are accustomed. We present a case-study based on surveys and in-depth interviews with hop and mint farmers and industry specialists in Washington and Oregon that examines farmers’ decision-making processes with regard to disease and pest prevention, and barriers and motivations for adoption of IPM practices for arthropod pest and disease management. Three primary themes emerged that emphasize the central importance of personal relationships in effective communication, awareness of the diverse motivations for and basis of current farming practices, and respect for heterogeneity in views of sustainable pest management. Communication efforts are most effective and persuasive when scaffolded by a relationship with farmers and their advisers that is informed by and evinces respect for the complexity of factors that underlie their management decisions. Communicating changes in production practices seems destined to fail unless structured as a two-way process, where both researcher or extension agent and farmer has something to contribute. In this framework, researchers and extension personnel can learn much about farmers' situated pest management decisions and the fit of IPM innovations researchers wish to see adopted. An ancillary, but critical, outcome of these relationships is development of trust from clientele and holism that only they can bring to applied research.

Last Modified: 10/24/2014
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