UC Davis Agricultural and Resource Economics

Olena Sambucci, University of California, Davis

Do Online Training Courses Change Behavior? California Grape Growers, Continuing Education & Powdery Mildew Management

Date and Location

Thursday, April 28, 2016, 4:10 PM - 5:30 PM
ARE Library Conference Room, 4101 Social Sciences and Humanities


This paper explores the effect of an online training course on pesticide application behavior of grape growers and the resulting change in disease management costs and environmental impact. We combine data on growers who completed the online course titled “Grape Powdery Mildew Control in California Vineyards” between 2004 and 2011 with Pesticide Use Reports (PUR), disease pressure forecasting data, and Pesticide Use Risk Evaluation (PURE) indicators to assess the impact of the course on pesticide applications made by grape growers to control powdery mildew. We find that the growers adjust their pesticide applications according to the major guidelines of the online course, but there is significant heterogeneity in the response among the different categories of grape growers. As a result, growers in three of the four major grape growing regions in our sample experience an increase in powdery mildew management costs after the completion of the course ranging between $14 and $84 per acre annually. In addition, we find an increase in the environmental impact of powdery mildew management post-class. We conclude that online courses are potentially an important tool in guiding grower behavior, but the content of the course and targeting of the audience are critical in achieving a specific behavioral response.

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