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Purdue Extension Encourages Practices for Safe and Effective Vegetable Production

Specialty crop growers face difficulties with insects, diseases, and weeds. They may have unique growing scenarios with greenhouses, fields, and high tunnels. Crops vary in nutrient requirements, equipment needs, and handling for food safety. Vegetable farming is diverse by nature, and it can be difficult to stay on top of the most recent research and recommendations. The annual Indiana Horticultural Conference has been an important resource for vegetable growers across the state.

With the uncertainty of the pandemic, Purdue Extension Specialists and Educators teamed up to offer a Vegetable Farming webinar series. The series provided 2 hours of instruction every Wednesday for the month of February. Numerous topics and tips relevant to vegetable growers were presented, providing attendees with the most current research-based information on pest control, soil health and nutrient management, food safety for fresh produce, and production methods. There were 420 registered across all four webinar sessions. The majority of registrants were non-Hispanic (82.3%) and male (52.6%). A post-survey was completed by 74 survey respondents across all sessions. Most respondents (78.9%) indicated, as a result of the Vegetable Farming webinar series, they learned something they didn’t know before. Respondents indicated they plan to adopt recommended food and farm safety/security practices (29.6%) and recommended assessments of critical control points for contamination – chemical, physical, and/or biological (25.4%). Respondents indicated they plan to adopt recommended practices/technologies for horticulture and the environment (43.7%), increased yields (43.7%), increased efficiencies (35.2%), and conservation of resources (35.2%). About one-fifth of respondents reported they had attended the previous year’s in-person conference.

Since that event, they had adopted recommended practices for farming, producing crops, and sustainable practices and technologies (69.2%). As a result of those adopted practices, they experienced conservation of resources (53.8%) and increased yields (46.2%). The Vegetable Farming webinar series was an effective event for delivering information to those interested in safe vegetable production, and for encouraging adoption of recommended practices/technologies for horticulture and the environment. Previous year’s attendees adopted practices that had resulted in conservation of resources and increased yields.

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