Date of this Version
Andow, D. A., Wright, R., Hodgson, E., Hunt, T., Ostlie, K. R. 2017. Farmer's perspectives on resistance in western corn rootworm to CRW-Bt maize in midwest USA. Journal of Agricultural Extension and Rural Development 39(3): 27-38. DOI: 10.5897/JAERD2016.0827
Resistance in western corn rootworm to transgenic corn hybrids was first confirmed in 2011 in Midwestern USA, and threatens their continued use. Farmers are often the first line of resistance detection, so their understanding and attitudes toward this issue are critical for improving resistance management. We conducted telephone focus groups during 2013 with farmers who had experienced rootworm resistance. There were four stages in dealing with unexpected rootworm injury: Awareness of a problem, diagnosis, confirmation, and recommendations. Most farmers discovered the problem themselves, but this usually happened too late in the growing season to limit yield loss. Once aware of a problem, farmers first sought help diagnosing the problem from their seed dealer, chemical rep, and/or crop consultant. They considered the problem to be a significant one, both because of its severity and suddenness, and were concerned about their difficulty in obtaining a correct diagnosis. They eventually used extension entomology specialists to confirm the diagnosis. Farmers gathered recommendations from independent consultants, input suppliers, and extension and indicated that they would aggressively deal with the problem, because they were not sure of what would work to protect their crop. They recommended that public extension put more emphasis on increasing awareness of the problem, assessing the extent of the problem and being an unbiased source of information. However, farmers were unlikely to report rootworm injury if the perceived barriers to reporting outweighed the perceived incentives. These barriers were emotional ones, including being unsure who to trust, fear that reporting will be time-consuming, and shame that they did something wrong. The incentive was access to credible advice. They did not automatically acknowledge the broader social benefits of reporting. Thus, extension probably needs to be explicit about these broader benefits to obtain information about the extent of the problem. With the conflicting demands and multiple information sources, it will be a challenge for extension to involve farmers to improve resistance monitoring and management.