Project Description

The use of certain broad-spectrum pesticides negatively affects global agricultural sustainability via externalities that include impacts on human health, and ecological function. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) International Code of Conduct on Pesticide Management aims to limit these impacts through pesticide risk reduction, and it calls for increased capacity development, along with the elimination of Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs). HHPs have been defined by a joint FAO, World Health Organization Panel, and the IPPC has identified pesticides that fall under this classification for use in 3rd party crop certification systems.

The FAO Code of Conduct also formally acknowledges the central role of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in reducing pesticide risks to better protect human and ecological health and achieve lasting transformation to more sustainable practices. Reducing pesticide risks is also among the goals of the US National Roadmap for IPM. IPM Extension programs are essential for progress in both IPM adoption and pesticide risk reduction, and they provide essential components of pesticide risk management by contributing to “safe and effective use”, and through deployment of alternatives to pesticides.

The Western USA hosts some of the most historic and successful IPM programs in the world, and these diverse programs provide what may be the best context for further elaborating advances approaches to pesticide risk management. Successful efforts in risk reduction must address multiple pathways, including provision of decision-support in pesticide selection to encourage use of reduced-risk products, risk mitigation education with the use of higher risk products, and development of pathways that lead to elimination of highly hazardous pesticides.


Project Aims

At their 2016 annual meeting, Extension IPM professionals from the Western US overwhelmingly agreed that capacity development in IPM extension is needed to achieve pesticide risk reduction throughout this region. In addition to expanding knowledge and skill development in pesticide risk education, an informal survey of collaborating Western region extension programs revealed three main needs, which we aim to meet within the goals of this project:

  1. Professional development workshops for Extension IPM educators addressing methods to improve learning and outcomes regarding pesticide risks
  2. A central website for sharing information and tools on pesticide risk evidence, assessment, education, and mitigation
  3. A science-based, user-friendly, risk classification system for pesticide products, that could be adapted to specific assessment needs (e.g. agricultural, urban, home garden, institutional, etc.).

This project aims to address the needs expressed by collaborating programs to achieve significant and documentable pesticide risk reduction across the Western US, a region representing some of the world’s most productive and diverse agro-ecosystems. Successful risk reduction here could also translate into significant progress globally through the mechanisms that we develop.


Key Activities

  • Annual pesticide risk education workshops for Western Region IPM Coordinators and other extension faculty, focused on pesticide risk education and impact evaluation. Each state IPM program is learning about, designing, and evaluating risk education programming, targeted to the specific needs of their respective audiences.
  • Development of, and education around, new pesticide risk classification tools that support risk-based decision-making to achieve increased use of reduced-risk products and adoption of risk mitigation practices, and diminished use of highly hazardous pesticides in the US Western region.
  • Monthly conference calls targeted at capacity development in pesticide risk assessment and education for IPM practitioners including the concepts, principles, and delivery of pesticide risk assessment, communication, and education.

IPM Impacts

This project is greatly increasing the capacity of Western region state IPM programs in pesticide risk assessment, communication, education, and mitigation, resulting in expanded skill sets for extension educators. Further, each Western region IPM program will receive specific education on pesticide risk education program design that will be used in each state’s IPM programming. This increased capacity will translate into documentable risk reduction in 12 Western states. We will achieve significant reduction in the use of highly hazardous pesticides in the West, and increase the use of reduced-risk products, with expanded risk mitigation for other products. Alignment with this classification system will also bring Western US farmers more in line with internationally-recognized and reviewed agricultural sustainability standards with respect to pesticide risk management, and increase access to crop certification and high value market pathways.


Success in highly competitive peer review, with the award of a Western SARE PDP grant in 2017 for a one-year project collaborating with western region state IPM programs.

“Western Region Pesticide Risk Reduction through Professional Development for Western State IPM Programs.” $63,299. (Project leads and collaborators listed above).


  • A 12-month pesticide risk education curriculum for IPM practitioners to be implemented through monthly conference calls;
  • Development of a centralized, publically-accessible website focused on pesticide risk assessment, education, and mitigation with tools and information on pesticide risk assessment and education that could be used by extension educators, consultants, and farmers.
  • A publication co-authored with Western region collaborators that describes our process, activities, education goals, and impacts