Scouting to Reduce Chemical Pesticide Use in Greenhouse Ornamentals

Attention Growers! Did you know that scouting your crop can help you find problem areas and allow you to make more timely interventions for management before things get totally out of control? Have you ever wanted to come up with a scouting routine or modify your existing one? The following steps and handouts will guide you step by step on how to come up with the most efficient way that works for you! 
Inspecting Plants

Step 1: Establishing a Scouting Program - Step by Step - This handout will guide you through how to use the following steps and supporting documents.

Step 2: Come up with early and late season Action Thresholds (Handout 1)

Step 3: Choose a scouting form that best suits your needs. Handouts 2a and 2b are intentionally blank so you can draft your own plan if you choose not to adopt one of the example forms below.

Handout 2a: Draft your own template

Handout 2b: Draft your own template

Example 1: Sticky cards only (actual numbers)

Example 2: Plants only (presence vs. absence)

Example 3: Cards & plants format 1
(actual numbers or comments)

Example 4: Cards & plants format 2 (actual numbers or comments)

Example 5: Cards & plants format 3 (infestation range)

Step 4: Map a scouting plan/route for your greenhouse. Map Template

Step 5: Scout your greenhouse!

Step 6: Keep track of your results using a graph. This Graphing Template example will allow you to keep track of
your sticky card counts.

This webpage was developed to provide educational materials and survey results from an intensive 2 day pilot IPM training session held for  growers in ME, NH and VT in March 2012.

This pilot project empowered growers of greenhouse ornamentals in Northern New England to establish formal scouting programs by training seasonal workers on pest and disease diagnosis and soil and water testing. This thereby reduced growers’ use of agrochemicals and increased their adoption of integrated pest management (IPM) and biological control. The goal of the training session was to provide participants with sufficient knowledge, confidence and expertise to establish an effective scouting program. Data was generated from surveys completed before the training, immediately after the training and at the end of the season to quantify the impact of scouting in general and the usefulness of this pilot project.

Below you can find additional resources that were provided at this session to help attendees become more proficient in their management skills. To the right are some survey results demonstrating the usefulness of providing formal hands on trainings.

  • 82% practiced IPM, 18% certified organic, 12% chemical based
  • 88% used biological control agents
  • Most common insect issues: aphids (94%), thrips (65%) and whiteflies (47%)
  • Most common disease issues: powdery mildew (71%), botrytis blight (53%) and bacterial leaf spots (35%).
  • 36% modified fertilizer rates & types & 64% practiced water & soil testing since attending the training. 14% purchased meters.
  • 21% indicated they used less chemical insecticides/fertilizers as a result of the training session.
  • 14% indicated they sprayed fewer times for pests because scouting detected problems earlier and used biorational compounds that had lower toxicities to living organisms and shorter persistence.
  • 14% indicated they reduced their pesticide usage by 11-25% while 7%, by 76-100%.
  •  57% indicated they designed and implemented a routine scouting program since attending the training. 
  • Common scouting practices include individual plant inspections (93%), hand lens use (79%), yellow sticky card scanning and a daily walk throughs (57%).
  • Limitations to practicing routine scouting programs are lack of time and proficiently trained/consistent long-term staff.

Thank You All Who Attended!

Session Highlights

Presenters & Organizers

Participants Lists: ME & NH Session, NH & VT Session

Disease Diagnosis Forms for ME, NH & VT

Diagnosing Plant Problems

Preventing Plant Diseases

Nutrient Deficiency Key

Understanding the Chemistry of Plant Nutrition

Identifying Insects on Sticky Cards

Insect Friends or Foes

ID of Greenhouse Pests and Their Key Morphological Features and Natural Enemies

Extra Special Thanks to The University of New Hampshire New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station at Kingman Farm and Gardeners Supply Company (Vermont) for the generous use of their facilities to host this event.

Join our NORTHERN NEW ENGLAND GREENHOUSE GROWERS NETWORK called GREENGROWER!!! This is a internet service to promote communication on greenhouse pest management among growers, extension specialists and researchers in ME, NH & VT. Please contact Cheryl E. Frank Sullivan at UVM if you would like to join.

If you have additional questions, please contact Cheryl E Frank Sullivan at UVM

This training program was supported with funds from the EPA Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program