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Kentucky IPM Farming Practices

Patricia L. Lucas
Extension Specialist for Integrated Pest Management
University of Kentucky Research & Education Center
Princeton, KY

Integrated Pest Management, a program designed to manage pests so that economic damage and harmful side effects of excessive pesticide use are avoided, was first introduced in Kentucky in the early 70's. By 1979, thirty-five counties had organized IPM programs which included more than 200,000 acres of cropland. Kentucky established itself as a leader in IPM during this time period with the development of the first Small Grain IPM (scouting) Program in the nation by Marvin Davidson of Todd County in 1978. Scouts for county programs attended IPM Scout Schools taught by University of Kentucky Extension Specialists.

Scouting and least-cost methods of managing pests are recommended to help farmers reduce production costs. Scouting refers to the practice of selecting random locations throughout a field and checking each location for weeds, diseases and insects. Locations to be scouted are selected so that the entire field is represented. The number of locations to be checked in a field is determined by the size of the field. The larger the field, the more locations that are checked.

As farming started a downward spiral in the late seventies, the number of county IPM programs and farmers participating in the program decreased. The number of programs and counties continued to decrease with the decline of the farm economy.

Today, IPM training is offered for Alfalfa, Small Grains, Corn, Soybeans, Canola, Tobacco and Apples. Programs are advertised and open to the public. Field Crop trainings are held at University of Kentucky Research Center in Princeton, KY, USA and at the Hardin County Extension Office in Elizabethtown, KY, USA. Farmers, Agri-business representatives, County IPM scouts, and Field Scouting Service employees attend the trainings.

Purpose and Objectives

A primary purpose of this study was to attempt to determine the effect the Integrated Pest Management Program has had on farming practices presently being used in Kentucky. A specific objective was to determine if farmers who have attended an IPM training are more likely to say they save money by using IPM practices than producers who have not received training.

Information obtained will also be helpful in determining the audience for future IPM trainings and their needs. Questions relating to the number of acres and if and how they are scouted were used in preparing the 1992 Federal IPM report for Kentucky.


The 1992 IPM Survey was publicized through a University of Kentucky news release and the Kentucky Pest News newsletter. Each County Extension Office and County Agriculture Agent was notified in advance that the survey was being conducted, that members of their communities would possibly receive the survey and that they also would be receiving a copy of the survey. Twelve Extension Specialists who are involved with the IPM program reviewed the survey. Prior to mailing the survey a field test was conducted. Education levels of those involved in the field test ranged from high school graduate to four years of college.

The descriptive survey was mailed to 1,000 addresses throughout Kentucky. Addresses were obtained from the Kentucky Pest News newsletter mailing list and Kentucky Seed Improvement Association.

The mailing list of Kentucky Pest News newsletter contains addresses from two newsletters, IPM newsletter and Pest News Alert, that were merged in 1990. Kentucky Pest News is published as a combined effort of the University of Kentucky Departments of Agronomy, Plant Pathology and Entomology. Thus, a wide variety of clientele receive this newsletter. The entire mailing list of 859 received a survey.

The remaining 141 addresses were selected at random from a mailing list provided by Kentucky Seed Improvement Association. Kentucky Seed is a non-profit organization that certifies seed grown in Kentucky. Addresses which appeared on the Kentucky Pest News list were removed from the Kentucky Seed list before the random selections were made.

The initial mailing contained a cover letter, the questionnaire and a self-addressed stamped envelope. Two weeks later a follow-up post card was mailed to all who had not returned a survey. Thirty-three of the surveys were returned due to incorrect address or expired forwarding orders. Twenty-four surveys returned were not used due to farm being leased, producer retired, death of producer, business was a cemetery, etc. Seventeen of the surveys returned were not used because of incomplete information. Of the surveys returned, 373 (40%) were used for this study. An added incentive for returning surveys was that all returned surveys were entered in a drawing for a basketball autographed by University of Kentucky Coach Rick Pitino.

The survey was designed for completion by producers, Agri-business personnel, Field Scouting Service Employees, County IPM Scouts, Cooperative Extension Service Employees and ASCS/SCS employees. The survey returns (as shown in Figure 1) were as follows:

Full-time farmer 35% (132),
Part-time farmer 22% (82),
Agri-business 24% (88),
Cooperative Extension Service Employee 14% (54),
Field Scouting Service Employee 2% (8),
ASCS/SCS Employee 2% (6)
Scout for county IPM Program and other 1% (3)

Only the data collected from Full-time and Part-time producers were used for this project.

graph of Survey Population
Figure 1. Survey Population

Frequencies, Chi-square tests and sums were calculated using SAS(tm) and an IBM mainframe computer. Raw data were used in all statistical tests and in calculating percentages presented in the results.


Using the Chi-Square test it was determined that being full or part-time had no statistically significant effect on the farmer's attending an IPM training (P=0.230). With no significant difference, the two groups were combined for a larger data set.

Of the farmers surveyed, 48% have never attended a training program on Integrated Pest Management. However, when asked what types of reference information they have on IPM, 92% used some form of information on IPM. Newsletter was indicated most often by both fulltime and part-time farmers as their information source. Their second choice was magazine followed by picture sheets, then manual and last books. Only 8% of all farmers indicated that they used no reference material on Integrated Pest Management. (Figure 2).

graph of IPM Materials Used by Farmers
Figure 2. IPM Materials Used by Farmers


In the comment section of the survey several indicated that to their knowledge IPM is not offered in their county and that the distance is a major reason they do not attended trainings. If trainings could be held in their county or area they would be willing to attend.

When making a decision on whether to use a pesticide, only one practice was found to be significantly different using Chi-square test based upon whether the farmer had received IPM training. Farmers who had received training were more likely to check areas of the entire field before making a decision on using a pesticide (P=.027). Training made no difference in use of the following practices:

  • Estimate Pest Population (P=0.284)
  • Plant Growth Stage (P=0.626)
  • Economic Threshold or Treatment Guideline (P=0.176)
  • Check Pesticide Cost Per Acre (P=0.607)
  • Stand Counts (P=0.489)
  • Try to Understand the Biology of the Pest (P=0.129)

The Chi-square test was used to determine if having received IPM training influenced the use of nine practices selected from the survey. Only the use of recommended planting dates (P=0.048) and the use of insect and disease resistant cultivars (P=0.019) were found to be significantly influenced by having attended an IPM training.

Attendance had no significant effect on use of the following practices:

  • Soil Testing (P=0.462)
  • Testing for Soil Compaction (P=0.990)
  • Control of weeds along field edges and in fence rows (P=0.548)
  • Regular Field Scouting (P=0.98)
  • Use of Certified Seed (P=0.246)
  • Calibration of Seeding Rates (P=.189)

The major finding from this project was that even though being a full-time or part-time farmer had no effect upon whether or not IPM training had been received, farmers who had received IPM training placed a higher value (in dollars saved) on IPM training (P=0.033).

Conclusions and Recommendations

Training is an essential part of IPM. Producers who receive training place a higher value on IPM and are more likely to say they save money through the use of IPM techniques. Training attendance had no effect upon whether a farmer chose to use most practices; however, training may make a difference as to whether a technique is used correctly.

Over half the farmers surveyed had never attended an IPM training program; however, 92% used some type of reference material relating to IPM. We believe that IPM practices are widely used by Kentucky farmers but not acknowledged as an IPM practice. A primary example is the practice of soil testing. Soil Testing has always been a recommended IPM practice, not only to test fertility but also to check for soil insects. Most of the practices are also recommended by other Extension programs.

Farmers who attend IPM trainings are more likely to scout a field before making a decision on whether to use a pesticide. When making the decision to use a pesticide, the only practice found to be statistically significant, based upon whether a farmer had received IPM training, was checking areas of the entire field.

Based upon the information received from this survey, farmers should be the primary audience of the IPM program since 84% indicated that they are responsible for scouting their own fields. IPM trainings have always been called "Scout Schools" and thought of as a training program for scouts employed by county IPM programs or by field scouting services. This image plus the decline of county-based IPM programs, may be responsible for the decline in attendance at IPM trainings over the years.

Kentucky IPM

Original document: 11 September 1996
Last updated: 11 September 1996

Scoutcat logo courtesy of C. Ware, copyright 2000

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