EAST LANSING, Mich. — Registration for the winter 2019-2020 session of the English and Spanish Biological Control for Greenhouse Growers Course in Michigan State University Extension’s College of Knowledge is now open. The College of Knowledge Online Series was the 2017 National Award Winning Commercial Horticulture Program from the National Association of County Agricultural Agents. Growers or other interested professionals can participate in the upcoming series of this award-winning program by signing up until Dec. 15, 2019. The participants will have access to the courses “Biological Control for Greenhouse Growers” and “Control Biológico para Cultivadores en Invernaderos” from Dec. 1, 2019, to Feb. 29, 2020. Sign up now!
There are currently three online modules of the Floriculture College of Knowledge. A total of 286 people have taken the Biological Control of Greenhouse Growers course in English and 11 in Spanish. The course participants were from 15 countries, including 38 U.S. states and 15 counties of Michigan. These participants represent 117.3 million square feet of greenhouse production area throughout the U.S. and the world. The average pre-exam score for students who have taken the course is 67% and the average post-course exam score is 94%, showing significant progress on the topics covered (n=271). To date, course participants have actually made changes to their insect management programs to at least 119 million square feet of production space. As a result of the course, 60% incorporated new natural enemies into their biological control program and 80% reported increased crop quality.
MSU Extension and Kansas State University Extension are offering the non-credit, pre-recorded online course on biological control twice a year. The course is intended for greenhouse growers and others interested in learning about the fundamental concepts of biological control and the challenges and opportunities associated with a biological control pest management program. The content of the course covers introductory materials to more advanced concepts such as utilizing banker plants. The cost to take the course is $129.
The course includes four hours of pre-recorded lectures divided into six units covering topics on biological control systems. The first two units of the course cover an overview of the challenges and opportunities of biological control, how biological control systems work, factors to consider when developing your program, the methodology of scouting, the commercially available biological control agents sold in the U.S. and provides benchmark release rates and facts useful to those releasing biological control agents in the greenhouse.
Units three and four discuss the four most common banker plant systems and the importance of quality control of all biological control agents. The last two units address the integration of pesticides (including fungicides) with biological control agents and provides registrants with examples of biological control programs implemented by wholesale spring bedding plant growers and greenhouse vegetable growers.
The course is taught on MSU’s Desire-2-Learn Course webpage by Heidi Lindberg, MSUExtension greenhouse and nursery extension educator. Raymond Cloyd of Kansas State University Extension co-authored the course and provided supplemental video content.
Individuals enrolled in this self-paced course will take a pre-test and a final exam to assess their progress on the topics associated with the course. Self-assessment quizzes will engage individuals with the material. The course also provides links to additional resources on pertinent biological control topics. For more information and to watch a teaser video for this course, check out the Biological Control for Greenhouse Growers page.
Available scholarships and incentives
For the winter 2019-2020 session, there are three scholarships available for those interested in the course but do not have the financial means to take it. Greenhouse growers interested in the scholarship will be able to apply for it upon registering by writing a short paragraph about why you should be awarded this scholarship and how you plan to use the information in your business or professional endeavors. The applicants and winners will be kept confidential. The cost of the course will be reduced to $39.99 for scholarship winners.
Complete the course and be entered to win a $75 gift card (U.S. residents only). Once students have paid for the course, completed the pre-test, final exam and the post-course evaluation, they will be eligible to be in entered into a raffle for a $75 gift card.
Register now for the online courses: Biological Control for Greenhouse Growers or Control Biológico para Cultivadores en Invernaderos.
Growers can register for the other courses using the links below:
— Heidi Lindberg, Michigan State University Extension
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