California and Arizona licensed agricultural pest control advisers and qualified and private applicators completed more than 700 online, continuing education courses on the Western Farm Press or Farm Press University Web sites last year.

That represents more than 2,800 continuing education hours.

Western Farm Press and Bayer CropScience, Valent and Dow AgroSciences joined together to develop the three courses and offer them online. The Bayer-sponsored course on California’s new groundwater regulations went up in April 2004 and the Valent and Dow courses on spray drift management and powdery mildew management in California grapevines went online in October.

"We are very pleased with the results of this pioneering online effort," said Farm Press publisher Greg Frey. "Response has been tremendous. The support of Bayer, Dow and Valent has been the key to the success of these online courses."

The response Frey is talking about is reflected in a few of the comments from those who earned online hours free.

"Thanks for providing this valuable resource," said John Burch, Roseville, Calif., pest control adviser (PCA).

"I learned more from this course than many of the meetings I have attended," said Kent Davis, independent PCA from Corcoran, Calif., who successfully completed the California Groundwater Regulations online course for one hour of California Department of Pesticide Regulation laws and regulations credit.

"Wonderful, educational resource," said Tim Fleming, independent PCA in San Diego, Calif.

"Thank you for the hours online," said Hughson, Calif., farm operator and PCA Kenneth Abeloe.

‘Most informative’

"This is by far the most informative online or live seminar course I have taken. Please have more," wrote David Dultz, farm owner and pest control adviser in Springville, Calif., who completed the groundwater regulation course.

"Very informative. Got some good information on biological working of mildew," said Clovis, Calif., licensed, qualified applicator Judge Brar.

"I would take 20 hours a year (online) if they were made available," said Napa, Calif., independent PCA Bill Henri.

"This course was perfect," said William John, Paso Robles, Calif., farm operator manager and private applicator licensee. "We need more like this with our busy schedules."

"I appreciate the caliber of the coursework," said David Lowe of Ripon, Calif.

The three courses were developed and written by the Western Farm Press staff using a wide array of resources, including experts from the University of California and the University of Arizona, California DPR, Arizona Department of Agriculture and other resources.

The courses are:

-- "Powdery Mildew Management in California Grapevines." This course sponsored online by Dow AgroSciences was approved for 2 hours of continuing education credit by DPR in the "Other" category"

-- "California Groundwater Regulations" sponsored by Bayer CropScience. This course was accredited for one hour of CEU credit by DPR in laws and regulations. This went online in April and almost 350 DPR licensees took it last year.

-- "Spray Drift Management to Minimize Problems" sponsored by Valent. It was approved for one hour of laws and regulations by DPR. This course was also accredited by the Arizona Department of Agriculture pest control advisers and applicators in Arizona.

All three courses have been re-accredited with new course numbers for 2005 by DPR and Arizona Department of Agriculture and are available online at www.westernfarmpress.com or www.farmpressuniversity.com

The only change is that Arizona’s department of agriculture has given the spray drift management course two hours of credit for 2005 rather than the one from last year, citing the quality of the information in it for awarding the additional hour.

All three courses will be live for 12 months on the two Web sites.

A licensee can simply click on any of the three buttons on either the Western Farm Press or Farm Press University Web site and begin the course. Once the course is completed, the licensee completing the course e-mails a notice of completion to Western Farm Press, which fills out the necessary paperwork for credit to the individual licensees. A verification of completion is also available for the PCA or applicator to print for his or her records.

In addition, the National Alliance of Independent Crop Consultants (NAICC) has given credit hours to both the groundwater and spray drift management courses. NAICC is currently reviewing the powdery mildew course for credit.

Course in Southwest

Texas and Oklahoma departments of agriculture have accredited a modified online version of the spray drift management course that will soon be posted on Southwest Farm Press’ Web site.

Other courses are in development and should be online later this year, said Frey.

"Farm Press has been working on this concept for several years and it came to fruition due to the innovative thinking and financial support of some of our key advertisers. Bayer, Valent and Dow recognized that online continuing education would be providing a valuable service to the agricultural industry and stepped up to support it," said Frey.

e-mail:hcline@primediabusiness.com