Western Farm Press has launched its fourth online continuing education unit (CEU) for California and Arizona licensed pest control advisers and qualified and private applicators.

Insecticide Resistance Management (IRM) in Agronomic and Row Crops is now online at www.westernfarmpress.com and www.farmpressuniversity.com. It is free to all California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) and Arizona Department of Agriculture (ADA) licensees through the financial sponsorship of Valent USA.

This is the second Valent USA-sponsored online CEU course on the Western Farm Press Web site. The other is Spray Drift Management to Minimize Problems. Since last October when the spray drift management course was launched, 335 licensed pest control advisers and private and qualified applicators in California and Arizona have completed the course to earn one CEU in laws and regulations from DPR or two CEUs from ADA.

The new Insecticide Resistance Management course is approved for 2 CEUs in the “Other” category by DPR. Arizona has approved it for 2 CEUs for all its credentialed consultants. The California Certified Crop Adviser program has also approved it for 2 continuing education units in the Integrated Pest Management category. An application for national CCA credit through the American Society of Agronomy is pending.

Western Farm Press developed the online CEU course with input from a wide array of Western entomologists, including Peter B. Goodell, University of California IPM advisor and IPM Extension coordinator, Kearney Agricultural Center; Peter C. Ellsworth, University of Arizona IPM specialist and statewide IPM coordinator; Eric T. Natwick, county director-entomology, UC Cooperative Extension Imperial County; Larry D. Godfrey, UC Davis Cooperative Extension specialist, University of California, Davis; Charles G. Summers, associate entomologist, Kearney Agricultural Center; Rick Roush, director of the UC IPM Program; and William E. Chaney, Cooperative Extension entomology farm advisor, Monterey County.

The following materials were also utilized in developing the course: IPM in Practice (UCANR publication 3418), The Safe and Effective Use of Pesticides, Second Edition (publication 3324) and numerous online sources, including information from the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program Web site the University of Arizona Crop Information Site, and the Insecticide Resistance Action Committee.

“This is first time I have been involved in the development of an online continuing education course,” said Ellsworth. “It is obviously providing yet another venue for teaching and educating our client base. In these days when everyone is spread thin and running hard, it is nice to have this sort of information available online to pest control advisers and growers.”

‘Convenient concept’

“Online courses developed by Western Farm Press are a convenient concept for PCAs, growers and applicators who want to get information or to earn CEU hours,” said Goodell. “The information obtained by taking these courses is every bit as good as what a person can get by sitting in a classroom for one or two hours.”

Goodell was the key entomologist in outlining course content for this IRM course.

Valent has been a partner with Western Farm Press in development and sponsorship of online CEU courses. Valent is the first company to sponsor two courses online simultaneously on the Western Farm Press and Farm Press Daily Web sites.

“We are very pleased to work with Valent on this new online accredited course,” said Western Farm Press publisher Greg Frey.

Frey added that since Farm Press began offering online CEUs, more than 1,200 courses have been taken by licensed advisers and applicators in California, Arizona, Texas and Oklahoma.

“Valent’s financial support of two CEU courses has been a key element in that success,” added Frey.

“Valent’s sponsorship of these courses represents the company’s commitment to provide as much educational support possible to PCAs, certified applicators and growers on how best to use the products we provide to the industry,” said Kelli Woodwick, Valent marketing manager.

“The online courses Western Farm Press has developed provide rapid, easy access to sound IPM and IRM educational information, and we want to support that effort,” said Woodwick.

“All of us are busy today and these courses give licensed professionals the flexibility to keep informed so we can all do a better job in serving our industry,” said Woodwick.

Elsa Zisook, Valent marketing communications manager and Cal Poly graduate is a former licensed California PCA, who appreciates the convenience of online, accredited continuing education.

Saves time, money

“Travel is costly today and being able to earn continuing education units online is a money saver as well as a time saver,” she said.

She said pest control advisers and certified applicators are “crucial to the success of Valent’s business. The better informed they are, the better results growers will receive and the happier people will be with Valent’s products.”

In surveying those who have taken courses, Western Farm Press has learned that there are PCAs and licensed applicators who have completed courses for information alone. They did not need the hours because they already had enough to be re-licensed.

“People are taking the courses strictly for the information they provide, and I think that is testimony to the importance of the subject matter within the courses Valent supports,” she said.

“Insecticide resistance management is one of the things Valent spends a lot of time working on, planning how we can make sure new products remain viable for a maximum amount of time,” said Zisook. “That is why many of our products are labeled for use only once per season. Insecticide resistance management is all about maintaining product efficacy and good product stewardship.”

Spray drift management has re-surfaced as a critical issue due to an increase in growers complaints this season. Ken De Leo of Fresno, a Valent sales representative in the San Joaquin Valley, said in an average year the Fresno County agricultural commissioner’s office receives three spray drift calls. This year the county has had more than 35, he said, resulting in the formation of a spray drift task force to deal with the issue.

De Leo attended a task force meeting and admits he was surprised at the “lack of understanding about pesticide applications and drift. As an industry we need to do a whole lot better job — along with government -- of educating applicators and growers on correct calibration and application and when to apply and when not to apply pesticides.”

De Leo said the online Spray Drift Management course at the www.westernfarmpress.com Web site is one way to improve understanding of science involved in pesticide applications.

Spray drift management is all about stewardship and that is the same principle that prompted De Leo to recommend Insecticide Resistance Management for Valent’s second Farm Press CEU. De Leo has played a key role in development of Valent’s two online CEUs.

Low dosage care

“Pest management is more sophisticated than ever before. Dosages of one to 2.5 ounces per acre are now common. A rate of 6.5 ounces per acre is big today. These low dosages make stewardship really important,” he added.

The Insecticide Resistance Management course now online focuses on understanding the modes of action for the various chemistries and how they impact pest control.

It is critical to know which brand names are in the same chemistry class, said De Leo. The IRM course identifies those classes and the product within them.

Valent’s insect growth regulator (IGR) Knack was a key part of one of the most successful insecticide resistance management programs every devised in the West.

Nine years ago desert cotton and melon growers in Arizona and Southern California were being literally overrun by whiteflies and the only hope was use of a pair of then new IGRS, including Knack, along with a scouting and treatment regimes developed by the University of Arizona in cooperation with Valent and others.

“When Knack was introduced, there were no complementary products on the market to use with it like we have today. Maintaining the efficacy of Knack for all these years has been a remarkable example of insecticide resistance management.

“Fortunately, we have more tools available today to rotate with Knack to guard against resistance,” said De Leo.

“It has been incredible. Nine seasons after were started using Knack it is as effective now as it was then,” said Ellsworth. “An even more importantly, we have a full spectrum of chemistry now available to manage whiteflies and it is all stabilized and has even improved susceptibility.”

The stewardship of Knack and the other whitefly IGR is a testament to a coalition of growers, consultants, University Arizona entomologists and product manufacturers who worked hard to establish guidelines early on that would give long efficacy to these products, said Ellsworth. Even today, Arizona growers and PCAs are spraying just once per season to manage whiteflies, a pest that a decade ago threatened to destroy the Arizona cotton industry and was the target of multiple, expensive pesticide applications in a season.

“We are ecstatic at the success we have experienced so far in controlling whitefly. Where you hear entomologists say use less and less of a product, I encourage growers to use either of the IGRs because they fit so well into the overall efficacy and selectivity for controlling whitefly within a good insecticide resistance management program,” said Ellsworth

Log on to www.westernfarmpress.com and learn more about the success of the Arizona IRM program by taking the new course. It is an integral part of the IRM CEU and a benchmark for other IRM programs.

e-mail: e-mail:hcline@primediabusiness.com