Western PMSP Guidelines: Tips, Do’s and Don’ts

The following suggestions are intended to supplement the national “Guidance in Developing a Pest Management Strategic Plan” document that can be found on the Internet. These notes are based on the collective experience of authors, editors, and IPM Center state liaisons in the Western Region.

I. PRE-WORKSHOP
  1. EIGHT+ WEEKS BEFORE WORKSHOP. Identify a small group of relevant discipline specialists (“Core Group”) who will help you with all stages of the draft. Make sure they are willing to provide input before, during, and after the workshop. This is in addition to “Step 6: Develop the Work Group” as discussed in the national guidance document cited above.
  2. SIX+ WEEKS BEFORE WORKSHOP. Prepare an Initial Draft of the PMSP using the outline and information provided on the National IPM Center’s website. Discuss the most likely crop stages with your Core Group. Typically, the document will be organized around these stages. Insert relevant pests and production statistics available to you. Brief biological information can be included at the first mention of each pest. Have the Core Group review the production statistics, biological information, crop stages, and prioritization of pests.
  3. FOUR+ WEEKS BEFORE WORKSHOP. Refine the Initial Draft and follow up with the Core Group where needed.
  4. TWO+ WEEKS BEFORE WORKSHOP. Having incorporated all information from the Core Group into your Initial Draft, the result is your Pre-Workshop Draft. Send this draft out to all workshop participants, requesting that they review it and make written comments on it to be submitted at the workshop for inclusion in the Post-Workshop Draft document. This helps to reduce the amount of time taken during the meeting discussing background information and small details.
  5. ONE WEEK BEFORE WORKSHOP. Prepare a pared-down outline of your draft document to be used during the workshop session. This document, the Workshop Outline Draft, should focus exclusively on the information you are gathering from the participants during the workshop. This draft will be a true outline, i.e., it will be very skeletal, with bullet points and lots of blank space to be filled in during the workshop discussions. The initial pages can include production information and statistics; the bulk of the document will typically be an outline of pests and their management strategies organized by crop stage. Pests and controls identified in the Pre-Workshop Draft will be included. Do not include every single possible pest and control method, just those that your Core Group has verified as important. This should include
  • all controls currently in use,
  • controls used within the past few years,
  • controls that have fallen out of favor due to resistance or efficacy issues, and
  • newly registered products for which efficacy information/field experience may be lacking.

Review this Pre-Workshop Outline Draft with the workshop facilitator. If you are organizing a multi-state/regional PMSP, take care to provide some sort of mechanism within your outline layout so that each state or region represented has the opportunity to provide input. The format may look something like this:

Crop Stage
Pest Category
Specific Pest

  • Pesticide A
    • Is it used? Why or why not?
    • Special concerns or issues?
    • Is it used in Region X?
      • Region Y?
      • Region Z?
  • Pesticide B
    • Is it used? Why or why not?
    • Special concerns or issues?
    • Is it used in Region X?
      • Region Y?
      • Region Z?
  • Cultural Control A
    • Is it used? Why or why not?
    • Special concerns or issues?
    • Is it used in Region X?
      • Region Y?
      • Region Z?
  • Biological Control A
    • Is it used? Why or why not?
    • Special concerns or issues?
    • Is it used in Region X?
      • Region Y?
      • Region Z?
  • Next Pest
    • Pesticide A
    • ETC.

II. WORKSHOP MEETING

    1. Have a typist/recorder at the meeting who is not extensively involved with the crop or the sponsoring organization. It’s OK if the typist is familiar with the crop or with pest management in general, but she or he should not be so thoroughly invested in the crop and the outcome of the document that she or he cannot focus on the task at hand: typing. (In short, the ideal typist should not be a participant within the workgroup.)
    2. Using information copied from the draft document, begin the meeting with discussion on crop statistics and production regions. If the crop stats section gets contentious or bogged down in details, assign a task force to work on it after the workshop. After discussion of crop stats and production regions, get consensus as to the crop stages.
    3. Brief the facilitator in advance that one of their major goals early in the process is to keep participants focused and calm about your use of time. It always takes a while to go through the introductory portions of the workshop, especially the first couple of crop stages. Regardless of how long the introduction session seems to new participants, everything gets finished, so it is important not to make the group feel rushed or worried that we won’t finish.
    4. As you go through the workshop, assign homework to keep the process moving. Be sure to manage the homework assignments carefully. Keep track of the homework assigned (task and person); use a blank sheet of paper or a spreadsheet you’ve previously set up or whatever method works for you. Ideally, have a record of all the homework assignments printed off and ready to hand out to participants before they leave the workshop. (This, of course, is easier with a multi-day workshop.) Whether you give out a physical record of assignments or not before the end of the workshop, let all participants know that you will be sending a detailed list of homework assignments out within a few days after the workshop. (See “Post-Workshop” section.)
    5. In the case of day-and-a-half or two-day workshops, finish going through the document on the first day of the workshop if possible so that the entire second day can be devoted to prioritizing the critical needs and working in small groups to finish the activity and efficacy tables. (In single-day workshops, make sure to finish early enough so there is plenty of time and energy left to address critical needs, activity tables, and efficacy tables. A target of 2 PM to finish the document is best.)
    6. When participants are finished going through the document once, take a break (this will be overnight if it’s a multi-day workshop), and work with the typist to pull together copies of all of the Research, Regulatory, and Educational Critical Needs identified in the various crop stage sections. Start your first breakout session: Defining the Critical Needs. If possible, divide the participants into three small groups, with a facilitator for each group. At a minimum, provide a list of Research Needs to the first small group facilitator, a list of Regulatory Needs to the second small group facilitator, and a list of Educational Needs to the third small group facilitator. If time allows, have copies made of all 3 sets of Critical Needs and make those available as handouts to all facilitators and participants.Specifics on how to conduct the Critical Needs priority setting process:

      Break into 3 small groups by having participants number off “1, 2, 3.” This provides random workgroups. A facilitator is assigned to each of the three topics (Research, Regulatory, and Educational Needs). Each small workgroup is assigned randomly to one of the topics and should be given about 20 minutes with the facilitator to brainstorm items to include in the top critical needs in that category. The facilitator writes each idea down on a flipchart for all to see. The facilitator (and/or the workgroup, if everyone has copies of the Critical Needs from the document’s crop stages) can use the Critical Needs notes from within the document to stimulate ideas if that proves helpful. The workgroups rotate through the other 2 topics, taking about 10 minutes at each to build upon the ideas of the two previous groups.

      After this process has been finished, bring the whole group back together, review the identified needs aloud, and ask for any additional needs or clarification of stated needs. Once these have been reviewed by the whole group the voting begins. Give each participant 4-5 colored sticky dots for the Research category, and 4-5 different colored dots for each of the Education and Regulatory categories (i.e., 12-15 dots, 3 different colors, with each corresponding to one of the categories), Ask them to place their dots on the flipcharts next to the needs they feel are most critical. In the West we have used several variations of the sticky dot voting process.

      A. Participants are not allowed to place more than one dot per need, or
      B. Participants can place as many dots as they want on any of the needs, or
      C. Ranking the dots by giving them a 1, 2 or 3 designation, with ‘3’ being the highest priority (if three dots per category were provided).

      Decide your ground rules for voting in advance of distributing the dots. (Store your flipchart pages with the rest of the workshop data.)

After the voting is completed, the facilitator counts the dots (or value of the dots) and ranks the needs according to the voting. This is reported back to the workgroup prior to the end of the workshop.

  1. After the Critical Needs have been voted on, form the second breakout session: Creating Activity and Pest Occurrence Tables. Assignment to these groups should not be random. The workshop participants will identify the different regions to be considered on the tables (e.g. there may be just one activity table and one pest occurrence table for the entire group but, more likely, geographic areas with similarities in field activities and pest occurrence, uniquely different from other areas, will want to have their region identified and represented on separate tables). Workshop participants will then break out into their appropriate regions (each group in a separate corner of the same room is OK) to complete the tables. . Each group should indicate on the pest occurrence tables both the presence and the period of treatment of each pest.
  2. After creating Activity Tables and Pest Occurrence Tables, form the third break-out session: Creating Efficacy Tables and Toxicity to Beneficials Table. Assignment to these groups should not be random. Experts in each pest discipline should work on the Efficacy Tables related to their expertise. Growers and consultants should also participate in the completion of these tables and will choose which table they wish to work on, but can also “float” between the different efficacy tables to provide input. The Toxicity to Beneficials Table can be filled in during or after the workshop; typically, this information is concentrated in the hands of only a few experts.

III. POST-WORKSHOP

  1. As soon as possible after the meeting (within 2-3 days), put together a detailed homework assignment sheet and email it to all involved participants. Give them a deadline. Ideally, you will have distributed many of the assignments in writing before the end of the workshop, but things generally continue to pop up during your initial post-workshop document review. Use this document to track responses.
  2. Verify the information gathered in the workshop against the Pre-Workshop Draft. Incorporate any written comments received on the Pre-Workshop Draft into the Post-Workshop Draft, along with all information gathered in the workshop session. Use your Core Group of experts to help settle disputes.
  3. Once the Activity and Pest Occurrence Tables have been transcribed, send them out to a representative from each geographic region for confirmation that the information transcribed accurately represents what was discussed and intended by the small group.
  4. As homework assignments come in, incorporate them into a Post-Workshop Draft. Take the time to verify all information in the context of the document. If a change is made to the text, cross-check it with the corresponding table(s).
  5. Once all homework assignments have been received and incorporated and everything has been cross-checked, send out the Post-Workshop Draft to all members of your workgroup, including any who were unable to attend the workshop. Make sure they understand that this is their final pass at the document, and that silence means agreement. Encourage them to read the entire document, focusing on sections that pertain to their region and/or area of expertise. Give them a firm deadline.
  6. Comments, changes, and information received after issuance of the Post-Workshop Draft must be verified by one or more experts who can speak with authority about that issue.

IV. GENERAL NOTES AND CONCEPTS

  1. If your PMSP is multi-state/regional be careful that statistics cited are reflective of all regions. Mentioning something germane to one region or state without mentioning how this pertains to the other regions or states can be misleading. If in doubt, leave a space for participant input during review of the Pre-Workshop Draft. Don’t just leave the space and hope it gets filled in, clearly flag it so that participants will address it.
  2. Do not include information such as REIs, PHIs, and thresholds in the text; these items are the focus of crop profiles. They can however be listed as Critical Needs if participants feel that developing or modifying (existing) REIs, PHIs, or thresholds is important.
  3. To avoid redundancy and confusion, the pest biology information should only appear at the first significant mention of the pest and only be included once in the document (with references to the section that contains more details). If chemical or cultural controls are employed at planting, but the pest does not occur until post-emergence, the name of the insect, as well as the controls employed will be listed in the planting crop stage, with a note similar to, “No damage is done by this pest at this crop stage. This pest will be described in more detail in the further crop stage, Post-Emergence.”