“Great courses. “Difficult and rewarding material. “Can't beat the location!”

Those were the comments of Christopher Ambuul, a California licensed qualified applicator and farm manager of 2,000 acres of citrus and avocados in Valley Center, Calif., who took an online continuing education course offered on the Western Farm Press Web site.

Ambuul is one of the hundreds of California-licensed Qualified Applicators, Pest Control Advisers (PCA) and Private Applicators who have completed about 1,200 accredited continuing education courses on the Western Farm Press Web site (www.westernfarmpress.com). There are three courses now on Web site. The same courses are offered on another Web site, www.farmpressuniversity.com Buttons on both Web sites will open all three courses.

“This is a great way to obtain hours without using work time,” commented Coalinga, Calif., retail PCA Bill Bollman.

“Keep having the online programs available to us,” wrote Lompoc, Calif., independent PCA Stan Deguchi, who consults on 7,500 acres of vegetables and ornamentals.

“We have had a tremendous response to these online courses since we began offering the first one a little more than a year ago,” said Western Farm Press publisher Greg Frey.

“It has be a win-win-win project for Western Farm Press and our sponsoring partners of these courses, Dow AgroSciences, Bayer CropScience and Valent USA and busy agricultural professionals in California and Arizona,” said Frey.

Bayer CropScience and Western Farm Press launched the first course on California's new Groundwater Protection Laws in April 2004. The course is accredited for one-hour of laws and regulations by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation. Almost 850 DPR-licensees have completed this course.

The other two courses were launched last fall. They are:

  • A two-hour CEU covering powdery mildew in California grapevines, sponsored by Dow AgroSciences.

  • A one-hour course covering spray drift management to minimize problems, sponsored by Valent USA. It is accredited in the all-important laws and regulations category. This course also is accredited for 2 CEUs by the Arizona Department of Pesticide Regulation.

Western Farm Press will launch a second Valent-sponsored course this summer. It is entitled “Insecticide Resistance Management in Agronomic and Row Crops.”

The courses are simple to take, and they are all free, courtesy of sponsors Bayer, Dow and Valent. A DPR of Arizona Department of Agriculture licensee simply logs on and begins reading a series of texts followed by several questions. This format carries through all the courses.

A person must answer all the questions correctly to complete the courses. An incorrect answer sends the course taker back into the text for the correct answer.

Once the courses are completed, an information form is e-mailed to Western Farm Press, which in turns notifies DPR or the Arizona Department of Agriculture that the licensee has completed the course.

“Topic presented very well,” was the comment of independent PCA Vincent Maniaci of Sherman Oaks, Calif.

“Thank you. This is very convenient,” wrote vegetable producer farmer and licensed private applicator William Moresco of Salinas, Calif.

“This really helps producers gain hours required by the county for a pesticide permit.” said Yuba City, Calif., stone fruit farmer John Amarel. “More courses would be helpful. Thanks once again!”

“Good presentation of material. A time efficient way to get the best information available,” commented Clovis, Calif., PCA James Knabke.

“This is a great opportunity to fulfill my PCA hours,” said Bakersfield, Calif., J.G. Boswell farm manager Jon Paul Collison who grows cotton, alfalfa, processing tomatoes, vegetables and cereal grains.

e-mail: hcline@primediabusiness.com