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Estimating IPM Participation In
Major Kentucky Field Crops

D. Johnson and P. Lucas*

graphic image of a barn


Farmers from the top 21 field crop producing counties in Kentucky were selected for participation in a survey to estimate the adoption of IPM ideas. Producers were selected and contacted by the County Extension Agent for Agriculture in each county, to be representatives of field crop production in that county. For purposes of this survey, producers of the corn, wheat, double-crop soybean rotation common to Kentucky were targeted. Ninety-one returned survey instruments from thirteen counties were usable for analysis. This represents 43 percent return. To encourage participation, basic questions concerning attitudes on: acceptance of a low level of pests, use of systematic sampling, employing research based decision making tools, alternative control methods and use of calender-based pesticide treatments were employed. Producers were also asked to identify their most critical needs for IPM and how to make IPM more effective. The vast majority of respondents (80%) scored greater than the established Minimum for Entry level IPM Practitioners and 20% scored greater than 75% of the possible points.

graph showing distribution of survey scores of Kentucky producers


In Kentucky educational and implementation efforts connected with Integrated Pest Management (IPM) have taken many forms. Like most other states IPM started as county based demonstration programs. In these programs, producers had to 'sign up' to participate and the programs were tightly controlled by the Extension Service. IPM efforts have evolved into something quite different today. Currently, we strive to integrate IPM into all phases of agricultural production making IPM the 'Conventional' method of pest control. However, it is the older county based program that most people think of when IPM is mentioned. The results of this change in teaching in combination with the old view of 'signing up' to be in IPM, has produced a population of farmers that practice various forms of IPM but do not think of themselves as IPM farmers because they are not 'signed up'. This work is a beginning step at gauging the current level of IPM practice in the general population of field crop producers.


Participants for the survey were selected by selected County Agents for Agriculture. Each agent was telephoned and asked to participate in the survey. If agreement was reached, the survey was explained to them during the telephone conversation. The agents were asked to select 10 producers in their county which represented the general trends in field crop agriculture for their county. After the telephone conversation, ten copies of the survey with a letter again explaining the survey were mailed to each of 21 county agents. The agents then distributed the surveys to selected producers in their counties, and arranged for return of the surveys to the authors.

Each producer was asked to indicate the county in which they farmed, the number of acres they cultivated, and whether or not they had attended an IPM school or participated in an IPM demonstration. Eight questions were developed to determine whether or not an individual was a practitioner of IPM. Seven of the questions dealt with practices that should be included in a IPM program. A single question dealt with a practice that is incompatible with IPM. The questions were scored by having the individual completing the survey circle one 'descriptive term', in a range of five, which most closely illustrated their agreement or disagreement with the statement. The 'descriptive terms' were, in order; Almost Always, Very Often, Often, Occasionally, Almost Never; except for Question one which where Strongly Agree, Generally Agree, Agree, Generally Disagree and Strongly Disagree was used.

Each of the 'agreement/disagreement' terms was assigned a point value from one to five. In the seven statements describing IPM practices, five points were assigned to the positive 'descriptive term' Almost Always (or Strongly Agree) and each successive 'descriptive term' was reduced one point with Almost Never (or Strongly Disagree) receiving one point. The statement describing the IPM-incompatible practice was scored in reverse.

The combination of questions with associated 'agreement/disagreement' values produced a scoring range with a maximum score of 34 and a minimum score of 2. The maximum score is formed by scoring maximum (five) on all seven of the IPM-supportive statements and subtracting the minimum value (one) for the IPM-incompatible statement e.g. ((7 X 5)-1). The minimum score is obtained by scoring the minimum value (one) for each of the seven IPM-supportive statements, and subtracting the maximum (five) for the IPM-incompatible statement e.g. ((7 X 1)-5).

It is assumed for purposes of this study that to be an entry level IPM practitioner, an individual should be implementing the seven 'IPM positive' practices more often than not and excluding the 'IPM-incompatible' practice. The numeric value used to signify this level is the midpoint of the scoring range 16 e.g. ((34-2) / 2) .


Statistical analysis indicated no significant effect of county or number of acres on the average score of producers. However, the level of IPM training did produce a difference. Those producers which indicated that they had participated in both an IPM school and an IPM demonstration scored on average 25.6. Those that had attended a school OR participated in an demonstration scored on average 22.1. Producers that indicated they had not attended an IPM School nor participated in an IPM demonstration scored on average 21.5.

graph showing answers to question whether every pest need be controlled

A large majority (95%) of respondents recognized that it was not necessary to control every pest (Question 1.).

76% of the respondents to Question 2 indicated they 'Often', 'Very Often' or 'Almost Always' utilized systematic sampling. Perhaps more importantly 0% replied 'Almost Never'.


graph showing answers to question regarding use of research based decision making tools

Using Research Based Decision making tools (Question 3) was also very strongly supported. Eighty-six percent of respondents indicated they 'Often', 'Very Often' or 'Almost Always' employed these tools. Only a single individual indicated that they 'Almost Never' used these tools.

graph showing answers to question regarding use of cultural practices

The use of appropriate cultural practices (Question 4) for pest reduction or avoidance was also strongly supported. Ninety-five percent of respondents indicated 'Often' to 'Almost Always' using these practices while 0% listed 'Almost Never' and only 4 respondents indicated 'Occasionally'.

graph showing answers to use of host plant resistance as a management tool

The employment of host plant tolerance / resistance as a management tool was not as well supported (Question 5) as might be expected. Only 72% of respondents indicated they 'Often' to 'Almost Always' used these tactics. These results probably illustrate an educational deficiency rather than a lack of utilizing the tactics. In the modern American agricultural production of corn, soybean and wheat, it is all but impossible not to use host plant resistance. It is much more likely that crop varieties containing resistant / tolerance are so common that producers don't even realize that they are employing this tactic (e.g. corn varieties with resistance to European corn borer).

graph showing answers to question regarding use of biological control

Results for Question 6 concerning biological control also showed a lack of agreement. Only 44% of respondents indicated they 'Often' to 'Almost Always' used these tactics. Though in the general sense of the word, one would be practicing "Conservation Biocontrol" if pesticides were not used until absolutely needed. It is the authors opinion that most of the producers would not think of this. Most producers tend to think in a pro-active pragmatic sense and do not consider not using a tool as a management technique. They tend to credit 'doing' something to solve problems rather than credit 'doing nothing' to solve the same problem.

graph showing answers to question regarding use of pesticides

Utilizing pesticides only when warranted (Question 7) was supported by 81% of respondents indicating 'Often' to 'Almost Always'. However, it is obvious that in this case the lower end of the agreement range is predominant. This may indicate a continued need to convince producers not to spray just because they are "in doubt".

graph showing answers to question regarding spray schedules

Certainly, the response to Question 8 provides a strong indication of changes in attitude from blanket sprays toward spraying when necessary. 90% or producers answered that they Almost Never or Occasionally used a Calender Spray. Perhaps more importantly 0% indicated that they 'Almost Always' used a calender spray system.


Kentucky producers have moved toward an IPM approach to pest control. On the whole producers indicated positive responses to questions concerning the core IPM techniques of using Cultural Practices, Systematic Sampling, and Research Based Decision Making. Additionally, these producers registered a clear negative response toward the use of Calender Sprays. The data also suggest a need for increased educational efforts in the areas of Bio / Natural Controls and Host Plant Resistance.

The resulting distribution of IPM-practitioners is very conservative. The scoring procedure is particulary harsh due the large reducing effect of the IPM-incompatible statement (Question 8). The relatively large (five out of a possible thirty-four) score received on the statement is directly subtracted from the total. Additionally, scores were also lowered because of the relatively low scores on questions related to Bio/Natural Control and Host Plant Resistance. These lower scores are probably a result of educational deficiency rather than non-agreement with the statements. Even so the vast majority of respondents (80%) scored greater than the 18 points established as Minimum IPM practitioners and 20% scored greater that 75% (27) of the possible points.


* Johnson, D. and P. Lucas. Estimating IPM Participation in Major Kentucky Field Crops. Ann. ESA Natl. Meeting, Nov. 8-13, 1998, Las Vegas, NV.

Kentucky IPM

Original document: 26 January 2001
Last updated: 26 January 2001

Scoutcat logo courtesy of C. Ware, copyright 2000

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