More than 30 hours of accredited continuing education (CE) credit for licensed agricultural professionals and producers in California and Arizona are available online at the Western Farm Press Web site.

Five new educational modules have been added so far this year to the lineup of online courses at www.westernfarmpress.com.

Western Farm Press/Penton Media will launch its 20th online continuing education course this summer.

All courses are approved from one to four hours by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation and/or the Arizona Department of Agriculture. The California and Arizona Certified Crop Adviser (CCA) program also accredits all courses. This includes several in the important nutrient management and water categories.

Six hours qualify for DPR laws and regulations credit.

Since Western Farm Press launched its first online course almost five years ago, more than 21,000 courses have been completed for credit hours/units.

All Farm Press continuing education (CE) courses are also linked from the California Association of Pest Control Advisers (CAPCA) Web site (www.capca.com), as well as the Web sites of many of the course sponsors.

“Farm Press’ online CEUs have proven to be very popular resources for not only conveniently obtaining credit hours by busy licensed agricultural professionals and farmers, but for disseminating vital production information to PCAs, qualified applicators and California growers with county applicator permits,” says Greg Frey, Farm Press publisher.

“Farm Press has partnered with major California agriculture suppliers to provide these courses without cost to the user,” said Frey. Course sponsors include Valent, DuPont, Monsanto, Yara North America, MANA, Chemtura, Monterey Ag Resources, Valmont/Valley Irrigation, Marrone Bio Innovations, Western Plant Health Association, and the Almond Board of California.

“These companies are providing a valuable, time-saving service to their clientele through these courses,” says Frey.

“Those who have completed courses online repeatedly tell us how much they appreciate this resource that allows them to complete courses to maintain their licenses and permits, often without taking time from busy daytime work schedules.

“We are also told the convenience of completing courses online without driving to classes is a real money and time saver” adds Frey.

Pest management continues to be the focus of most of the Farm Press CE courses. However, nutrient management as it relates to plant health has become an integral part of the CE course package.

One of the newer courses offered on Western Farm Press’ Web site covers nutrient management for key California crops. It is funded by a grant from the California Fertilizer Research and Education Program (FREP) awarded to Western Plant Health Association. Farm Press and WPHA worked jointly with FREP to develop the course, which is also linked from the WPHA Web site.

There is another new course on the utilization of calcium to protect against disease organisms. It was launched this year under the sponsorship of Yara North America.

One of the newest courses details the use of biopesticides in pest management programs. Sponsored by Marrone Bio Innovations, it covers all biopesticides and details how they can be used in not only organic farming, but in conventional farming pest management programs as well.

Another new course launched earlier this year covers the design of center pivot and lateral move irrigation systems and their use in applying fertilizers and pest management chemicals.

“Agronomic Principles and Efficient Chemigation and Fertigation Using Center Pivot/Linear Sprinkler Systems” is the title of the CEU sponsored by Valmont Irrigation.

Two of the latest courses developed by the Farm Press staff cover the use of a new mode of action chemistry, Rynaxpyr, on fruit and vegetable crops. This is an important new introduction for Integrated Pest Management Programs. These courses are sponsored by DuPont Crop Protection.

Three of the more popular CEU courses focus on specific crops.

There are two CEUs on pest management in almonds; one detailing management insect pests in almonds sponsored by Chemtura and another covering almond disease management sponsored by MANA and endorsed by the Almond Board of California, which helped develop the information in the course.

The No. 1 disease worldwide in grapes is powdery mildew. World-renowned University of California plant pathologist Doug Gubler provided the information on this course. It is sponsored by Chemtura.

Another popular course covers weed resistance management in agronomic and row crops. It focuses on Western agricultural crops and focuses on a wide array of management practices to ward off weed resistance to all herbicides; Monsanto sponsors it.

Monterey AgResources contracted with Farm Press/Penton Media to develop an extensive course on organic/sustainable agricultural production in the West. It is approved for four DPR credit hours.

Managing Spray Drift to Minimize Problems was developed utilizing a wide array of resources. It is sponsored by Valent, which also sponsors the course “Insecticide Resistance Management in Agronomic and Row Crops.”

Other online courses cover California’s groundwater laws; the use of copper in disease control and lepidopterous pest management and pesticide safety.

Also this year, there has been a change in course format, with a new online service provider. The result has been greater integrity and reliability for the courses. There is informational text followed by a quiz. A person reads the entire text of the course and then moves on to the quiz. A split screen feature allows the user to view the text and quiz at the same time.

A score of 80 will earn CE hours. If a user fails the course, he or she can immediately retake the quiz.

A log-in feature is another new element of the revised platform.

“This new platform is much more secure and reliable than the old online portal,” says Frey.

Unlike the old platform, the new one requires users to establish a login. This enhances site security and provides a new feature that will individualize the Farm Press CE portal.

Once a person has establishes a login, he or she is automatically given a personal mailbox where there are records of all courses completed.

“A person can go to his or her mailbox and see which courses they have completed and print a verification of attendance for each course completed,” says Frey. “This should make it easier when it comes time to renew licenses.”

“We moved to a new platform for several reasons. One is to make courses more stable. We had too many complaints from people having computer problems with the old platform,” says Frey. “The new platform eliminates the problems.”

As in the past, the courses, and now individual records, are available 24/7.

Farm Press will continue to notify the appropriate accrediting, certifying agency or organization of an individual’s course completions.

Everything is done online — there are no forms to complete and mail.

email: hcline@farmpress.com