Factors affecting the implementation of an electronic Pest Recommendation Network for pesticide applicators in Montana
Lanier, William Thomas
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The problem is how to deliver pest management information to pesticide applicators, where they live and work, in a manner that does not intimidate them. The delivery structure must allow for the effective use, safety and hazard information to be ‘ incorporated into the daily decision-making process. The objectives of this study were to determine the factors that may enhance or prohibit use of the Pest Recommendation Network (PRN) and how valuable selected pest control topics are to pesticide applicators in Montana Pesticide Applicator Training (PAT) Region 2. The six factors that may have affected a participants use of the WWW were lack of hardware, software, monthly service provider charges, familiarity with what the WWW offers, lack of computer technical assistance or training and/or high telephone line charges. The selected pest control factors were chemical control information, economic thresholds, crop variety susceptibility information, and pest life cycle conditions favoring susceptibility, typical infestation pattern in fields, symptoms and look alike symptoms, cultural control information and knowing required scouting frequency. The survey group (n = 497) was randomly divided into two groups. Each group received a take-home worksheet that provided step by step instructions on how to access and receive information from the PRN. In addition to the worksheet, one group received training that included verbal explanation of 11 Power Point text slides and 3 PRN screen images from the PRN application. The purpose of the mini-lecture slides were to motivate and familiarize subjects to the availability and value of the PRN. The control group saw only one text slide referring to the PRN. To use the PRN, the control group would have to rely on the worksheet instructions. In summary, the amount of training the participants received at the Region 2 PAT re-certification program did not significantly affect their access of the PRN. Ranking of the results of the survey showed that people with access to the Internet found familiarity with what the Internet offers, lack of computer technical assistance or training, high telephone line charges as the factors that affected their use of the Internet the most. Participants also ranked chemical control information, economic thresholds, crop variety susceptibility information, pest life cycle as most valuable to their pest control decision making. The results of the demographic section of the survey revealed that over half of the surveyed participants had access to computer hardware, over half used it for farm business and over half had either access to the Internet or email.