Comparison of Two Techniques to Obtain Information on Pesticide Use from Iowa Farmers by Interview

Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health
  • Blair, Aaron;
  • Burmeister, Leon F.;
  • Kross, Burton;
  • Ogilvie, Linda;
  • Stewart, Patricia A.;
  • Ward, Mary H.;
  • Zahm, Sheila H.


A methodologic study was conducted in Iowa to evaluate the quality of information on pesticide use provided by farmers and their spouses. Included in this project was an assessment of the amount of detail farmers could provide in interviews regarding agricultural use of pesticides and to evaluate whether a volunteer or probe interviewing technique elicited the best response. Interviews were conducted with 203 farmers to obtain information on type, amount, and timing of pesticides used. In the interviews, farmers first volunteered the names of pesticides they had used. Interviewers then probed for possible use of pesticides not already mentioned. Probing yielded a considerable number of additional positive responses, e.g., from 12% of the total number of farmers reporting use of atrazine to 89% for chlordane. This indicates that questionnaires based on an approach where farmers volunteered the names of individual chemicals used, i.e., provided names without interviewer prompts, are likely to be less complete. Many farmers were able to provide information on amount of pesticide purchased, application rate employed, and acres treated. A larger proportion, however, provided “don't know” responses to the questions about amount of pesticide purchased (6% to 27%) and amount of active ingredient used (7% to 20%).

Full article can be found in: Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health
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