With its fertile soil and mild climate, the Willamette Valley grows a wide number of crops that are profitable but attract a challenging arsenal of pests and weeds. Growers and field agronomists tell the Oregon State University Extension Service they want to learn about new and ongoing research and technologies that can improve yields, profitability and ecosystem services on their farms.
In response to the requests for more information, Christy Tanner, OSU Extension field crops faculty and assistant professor of practice in the College of Agricultural Sciences, conducted a needs assessment, then organized a series of five virtual Coffee Hour meetings that addressed slug management, soil health and managing weeds. Tanner invited guest speakers to give short presentations on research for each topic. When appropriate, she also prepared presentations with more general information.
The Coffee Hour conversations attracted 37-61 people each week, including farmers who manage over 34,500 acres and agronomists who make crop management recommendations on over 209,000 acres. In a follow-up survey, 100% of respondents said that they would like this program to continue, and 79% said they planned to use something they learned for their crop management.