New York State IPM Program

Training the Next Generation of Crop Scouts and Advisors

Today’s post is by  Jaime Cummings, NYS IPM Field Crops and Livestock Coordinator

Scouting for corn pests and diseases (photo by Ken Wise)

Each year, hundreds of prospective certified crop advisors (CCA’s) prepare for the certification exams across the country.  This certification is required by many reputable independent crop consultant firms for their scouts and consultants to ensure that they hire only the best and most well-informed applicants.  Each region of the country has its own certification exam, including the Northeast region.   Preparation for the Northeast region certification involves a three day intensive training in Syracuse in November, followed by self-study with online tutorial videos, and finally two exams in February.  One exam is to earn the International Certified Crop Advisor certification, and the other is more specific to each region.  It is required that all registrants pass both exams to earn their certification.  Once certified, CCA’s must also earn annual continuing education credits to retain their certification and to stay current on relevant issues.

It is a challenging process, and only those who are well-prepared will pass the certification exams.  The curriculum of the courses and exams covers four core competency areas:  crop management, soil fertility and nutrient management, soil and water management, and pest management.  Northeast regional CCA experts from the University of Vermont, Penn State University, Cornell University, SUNY Morrisville, SUNY ESF, NYS Department of Ag and Markets, USDA, DEC and other agribusiness industries, all come together to facilitate the annual basic and advanced trainings.

The steps of IPM are a key portion of the CCA training session.

The NYS IPM program has had a long history of involvement with these trainings in order to best prepare CCA’s for scouting for pests and diseases and for making sound management recommendations to their farmers, with the goal of reducing unnecessary pesticide applications through attention to thresholds and appropriate management guidelines.  This year is no exception.  The NYS IPM Field Crops and Livestock team members, Jaime Cummings and Ken Wise, who are both CCA’s, have been preparing to host sessions in the annual training next week.  Jaime developed a training video for the IPM portion of the pest management basic training and will be co-hosting the Q&A session on weeds, pest and diseases.  These sessions will provide the basic background information on the concepts and practices of integrated pest management.  Ken will be leading an advanced training session on the importance of crop scouting and the proper scouting methods for various pests.  Ken will also be co-hosting a session with another IPM specialist, Marion Zuefle, on bird management in cropping systems.  The topics for the advanced training session vary each year, and other members of NYS IPM have been involved with leading those sessions on topics such as IPM in vegetable production systems, and development and use of weather-based tools for predicting pest and disease occurrence in past years.

Scouting for insects in alfalfa. (photo by Keith Waldron)

Through our involvement in this process, NYS IPM ensures that the next generation of CCA’s understands the importance of implementing the best IPM practices throughout their careers.  Earning this certification means that a CCA understands that an integrated approach to pest and disease management is the best approach to minimize risk to individuals, the environment and the farmers’ bottom line through correct identification of pests, proper scouting and attention to action thresholds to minimize unnecessary pesticide applications.  As the CCA exams approach, we wish all prospective CCA’s the best of luck, and look forward to working with them on NY farms in the future!  If you’re interested in more information on the CCA program, check out this six minute video.

CCAs learn the basic concepts of IPM during the training.

Jaime Cummings is the Field Crops and Livestock IPM Coordinator of the NYS IPM Program. She is housed at  524 Bradfield Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca NY, 14853

Jaime Cummings

Author: Debra E. Marvin

Community IPM Program Assistant for Schools, Daycare and Horticulture. New York State Integrated Pest Management Program, Cornell University, New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, 630 W. North Street, Geneva, NY 14456 Email: dem35@cornell.edu

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