2013 DAS Survey
An online survey of registered WSU-DAS users was conducted from July through September 2013. Of all registered DAS users, 377 participants responded to our survey. Some graphs presented with the 2013 survey data show comparative results with the 2008 and 2010 surveys when survey questions were repeated.
Most respondents were between 50 and 59 years of age (31%), 20.4% were 40-49 years old, and 24.7% indicated they were 60+ years of age. Figure 1 shows a comparison of the age distributions for each survey year. Eight-eight percent were male, and 99% were female with 1.9% declining to answer. Figure 2 shows that the gender ratios for each survey year remained about the same. Spanish was the first language for 9.8% of the respondents, up 6.8% from the previous survey. Figure 3 shows a slight shift in the user’s primary language since 2010. The 2010 survey asked respondents if they would like to use DAS in Spanish if the option was available with a positive response of 10%. By 2013 the Spanish option became available. DAS user database statistics indicated that only 3.6% of the users were using the Spanish version.
The majority (63.7%) of respondents had a 4-year degree or higher, followed by some college (11.9%), a 2-year degree (12.7%), high school/GED (7%), and trade school (1.4%). Figure 4 shows that the distribution of educational background for DAS users remained stable over the three survey years.
Ocne again users were asked to characterize their experience with computer use by indicating the type of computer interaction. Figure 5 shows that use for email, web browsing and office applications (word processing and spreadsheets) remained fairly constant. However, there has been a steady increase in the use of smartphones. The self-described level of computer usage by user (Figure 6) remained consistent with that of the previous surveys with nearly three quarters (74%) of respondents describing themselves as average computer user, 11% as computer experts (a slight drop from the 17% in 2010, but similar to 2008), and 14.5% as novice (increased from previous years).
Respondents were asked when they first began using DAS. Figure 7 shows the addition of new users since 2010.
They were then asked to indicate the type of device they used for DAS (Figure 8). Desktop and laptop computers are used by 66% (78% in 2010) and 65% (same as 2010) of the survey respondents, respectively. In 2010, the use of smartphones/PDA’s more than doubled from 20% in 2008 to 45%. In 2013, the survey question was expanded to include the use of tablets in addition to smartphones with the percent usage being 22% and 40%, respectively.
The survey respondents from WA State provided pest control management or recommendations for an approximate total of 246,825 acres of tree fruit (ranging from 0 to 10,000 acres per user; Figure 9) in 3,350 orchards (ranging from 0 to 150 orchards per user, Figure 10). Of the respondents from WA State that provided management or recommendations, 79% did so for apples, 62% for pears, 48% for cherries, 24% for other stone fruit, and 9.5% for other crops (grapes, berries, wheat, fallow, nursery; Figure 11). Figure 12 shows the distribution of acreage by crop managed by all users combined. The data show a huge jump in the amount of apple acreage managed using the assistance of DAS since 2010.
Figure 13 shows that the majority of survey respondents described their management practice as conventional (69%), followed by organic (31%), and other (28%; IPM, low-input IPM, soft IPM, mixed, sustainable). The fina general orchard/management description question asked users approximately how far away their orchard was from an AgWeatherNet (AWN) station. 57% of users indicated that they were at least 1 to 5 miles from a station and 31% were at most 1 to 5 miles away (Figure 14). However, many users indicated that they were over 6 miles away from a station.
The year respondents began using DAS and the type of device used to access DAS is described above in figures 7 and 8 under User Background and Demographics. Here we begin to describe the user experience with various aspects of the DAS website application. The first question in this section asked respondents to rank the level of ease (1= very easy to 5= impossible without help) to complete certain tasks. Figure 15 shows the rankings for each task. At least 40% of users score each task as “1”. Setting up and editing a user profile appeared to be the most difficult task with over 20% of users indicating the difficulty as moderate to high (3 or higher rank). However, if you subtract out the number of people that didn’t actually do these tasks (13.5%) the score improves. Unfortunately, we do not know if these users did not do these tasks because they only wished to utilize non-profile related content (for example, non-WA users or non-orchard crops) or because they didn’t know how to do the tasks.
Respondents were then asked to rank the ease in accessing various features in DAS. Figure 16 shows the relative ranking for these tasks. At least 50% of users ranked these tasks as “very easy” or “easy”. However, between 5-20% of users were unaware of some features, with the use of historic weather comparisons and comparing pesticide choices being the least known. Very few users (less than 5%) found accessing these features “very difficult” to “impossible” (ranks 4-5).
Respondents were then asked to rate the relative usefulness of various DAS features. Figure 17 shows the distribution of feature rankings. Again, many features were unknown to some users.
The next set of questions dealt with the use of weather stations. Figure 14 above under Orchard Characteristics reported the user’s orchard distance from an AWN station. As a follow up to that, we asked if respondents used their own weather stations. The majority of users (79%) do not (Figure 18). For those users that do utilize their own stations, we asked about the ease of entering/uploading their weather data into DAS. Nearly half of the respondents were unaware of this feature, and of those that were aware, 40% indicated that they did not need this feature (Figure 19).
Respondents were asked about how they use the information they get from DAS. The majority of users (60%) indicated that the information was mostly for their own use, but that they did share it with others as well (Figure 20). In the section above, Orchard Characteristics we asked about the crops for which the users make management decisions (Figures 9-12). To add to this, we queried the DAS database to see which crops users were accessing information about. Of 609 DAS users accessing accounts at least three times between 2013 and 2014 (July), the majority (93%) accessed information relating to apple (Figure 21). This information was compared to comparable information from 2008 and 2010, also shown in Figure 21.
We also looked at which models users accessed. The two most popular models were for codling moth (95%) and fire blight (85%) followed by Oblique-banded leafroller (71%; OBLR) and Western cherry fruit fly (70%; WCFF). The complete listing is shown in Figure 22.
Key to model abbreviations: CM=codling moth; FB=fire blight; OBLR=oblique-banded leafroller; WCFF=Western cherry fruit fly; CPM=cherry powdery mildew; PLR=Pandemis leafroller; SCAB=apple scab; SJS=San Jose scale; SUN=sunburn; PTB=peach twig borer; AM=apple maggot; LAC=Lacanobia fruitworm; OFM=Oriental fruit moth; SCALD=scald; CS=cherry shothole
Additional information from the DAS user database concerns the number of models accessed per user (Figure 23) and the number of different stations users by each user (Figure 24).
This section of the survey asked respondents about DAS support services including if and how they would like to learn more about using DAS, if they participated in a learning event, as well as how they would rate their experience with DAS training or other support services. Initially, respondents were asked if they would like to learn more about using DAS (Figure 25) and then what format they would like to have DAS training (Figure 26). The majority (61%) of users would like additional training. Grower meetings and workshops were ranked highest amongst the educational format choices (49.7% and 46%, respectively).
Respondents were asked if they had participated in a hands-on workshop with laptops during 2010-2012 (Figure 27) and if so, how useful that training was for them (Figure 28). Only 12% of respondents participated in training leaving the sample size for the follow-up question small. Of those that did participate, 97% agreed that the training was both useful and that they were able to apply the training to their DAS usage. the only negative comments regarding the training were that the user had problems with their internet connection/bandwidth making access problematical and that there was a lot of information for a new user to absorb in such a short session.
Respondents were then asked if they had ever called or emailed a DAS team member to request any kind of support (Figure 29). The majority (67.5%) indicated that they had not requested support. Those who had requested support were asked to rate aspects of the support team’s performance (Figure 30). The support team received mostly “excellent” ratings for Friendliness (81%), Responsiveness (76%) and Helpfulness (75%). Only two respondents rated Responsiveness as poor.
The Impacts section of the survey was aimed at discovering how the use of DAS had influenced management practices and impacted the cost of doing business. The first question asked respondents to indicate how DAS changed the number of sprays applied, the cost for management and the level of pest control achieved (Figure 31). these results can be compared to the same question results from the 2010 survey (Figure 32). A visual comparison of the results indicate that the overall impact of DAS for 2103 was improved.
Respondents were then asked to indicate to what extent DAS helped in various pest management processes (Figure 33). The data indicating that DAS had helped at some degree was plotted against comparable data from the previous surveys (Figure 34). The latter plot indicates that DAS has had a favorable impact on assisting with various aspects of pest management.
The final survey question asked users to provide an estimate of the value per acre that DAS provided to their operation. Figure 35 summarizes the results from those questions and compares them to the results received from the past surveys. Table 1 shows the average value per acre for each survey year. Two things are worth noting here: first, some of the respondents don’t actually management or consult so they may have been among those that answered with a 0 or low estimate causing the mean to be lower than the actual average; second, several of the written comments indicated that the value was well above the maximum choice value. Had this been an open-ended question, the results very well have been higher.
Table 1. Average value per acre for each survey year.
2013 Average: $70.44/acre
2010 Average: $70.45/acre
2008 Average: $74.56/acre