University of Georgia Cooperative Extension county agents will now come to farms to teach a series of pesticide-focused trainings to agricultural producers through a new, unprecedented training initiative.
In an effort expected to span the next three years, UGA Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources county agents will meet with growers at their farms to discuss topics critical to long-term sustainability. This unique, one-on-one training approach allows agents to bring tailor-made, research-based information from UGA right to growers’ front doors.
“We are delivering critical information in a very rapid manner to our growers to help them make better decisions,” said Laura Perry Johnson, associate dean for Extension.
The trainings focus on pesticide application (http://t.uga.edu/28h), herbicide-resistant weed prevention and management, pollinator protection and sound management program implementation for long-term sustainability. The farmer will determine the focus of much of the discussion, and the UGA Extension agent will assist in overcoming challenges.
“Many of our growers attend classroom-type meetings each winter to learn the latest agricultural information; however, those discussions often focus on a more regional or state perspective,” said UGA Extension weed scientist Stanley Culpepper. “Our one-on-one trainings will focus on each grower’s farm. This allows for prescribed recommendations at their best. Also, keep in mind that our agents live and work in these areas every day, so who is better suited to do the training?”
Culpepper stresses that one of the greatest values of these trainings will be the ability to communicate directly with the person applying the pesticides. In some situations, the farmer may not apply the pesticides, but may have hired an on-farm pesticide applicator. Sharing the latest research directly with applicators will improve on-target applications, which will protect the farm, its neighbors, the consumer and the environment.
UGA Extension works closely with the Georgia Department of Agriculture to help growers make wise decisions when applying pesticides. One of the greatest challenges is actually getting face time with non-farm owner applicators.
This history-making educational program would not have been possible without complete support from UGA Extension agents across Georgia and from Johnson, Culpepper said.
“Dr. Johnson’s love for Extension is simply amazing, and her commitment to new and creative approaches for effective information delivery is clear,” Culpepper said. “The survival of Cooperative Extension across America is greatly challenged. However, creative educational outreach through the sharing of the latest, unbiased research data in support of agriculture will further build the relevance of University of Georgia Extension.”
For more information, contact your local UGA Extension office by visiting extension.uga.edu or calling 1-800-ASK-UGA1.
(Clint Thompson is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences based in Tifton.)
Colquitt County Extension ANR agent and county coordinator Jeremy Kichler speaks during Sunbelt Field Day in July, 2015.Download Image