Misinformation relating to horticulture can spread quickly among laypersons. Although some misinformation may be harmless, such as the myth that bell pepper (Capsicum annuum) fruit can be either male or female, other misinformation is generated to sway consumer decisions. The demand from Cooperative Extension Service (CES) agents for support to combat the spread of horticultural misinformation, horticulture specialists at the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service (UACES) created a “Horticulture Fact or Fiction” series of blog posts that targeted common horticulture myths with science-based explanations and used graphics interchange format (GIFs) to promote the blog posts on social media. The integrated social media campaign was shared on the authors’ UACES Horticulture social media accounts and by eight UACES agents during 2021. The effort reached 13,397 social media users, and the blog posts had a total of 45,544 pageviews. Although social media was not the major driver of traffic to the blog post series, GIF-based outreach on social media did direct more than 1000 additional users to the blog posts. Through this integrated approach of using social media and GIFs shared by both specialists and CES agents, we were able to connect a large number of stakeholders to research-based content, resulting in higher average traffic to our webpage-based blogs than the average UACES webpage. This type of integrated approach using multiple online means of communication including GIFs, blogs, and social media to create a toolkit of resources for CES agents may be useful for extension professionals targeting stakeholders online.
Sarah Cato, Amanda McWhirt, and Lizzy Herrera
Olya Rysin, Amanda McWhirt, Gina Fernandez, Frank J. Louws, and Michelle Schroeder-Moreno
In this study, we investigate the economic viability and environmental impact of three different soil management systems used for strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa) production in the southeastern United States: 1) a conventional production system that is based on the current production practices implemented by growers, 2) a nonfumigated compost system with summer cover crop rotations and beneficial soil inoculants, and 3) an organic production system that includes practices approved for use under the National Organic Program (NOP). Under our assumptions, all three systems resulted in positive net returns estimated at $14,979, $11,100, and $19,394 per acre, respectively. The nonfumigated compost system and organic system also both resulted in considerable reductions in negative environmental and human health impacts measured by a set of selected indicators. For example, the total number of lethal doses (LD50) applied per acre from all chemicals used in each system and measuring acute human risk associated with each system declined from 118,000 doses/acre in the conventional system to 6649 doses/acre in the compost system and to 0 doses/acre in the organic system. Chronic human health risk, groundwater pollution risk, and fertilizer use declined as well in the compost and organic systems as compared with the conventional system.
Gina Fernandez, Jeremy Pattison, Penelope Perkins-Veazie, James R. Ballington, Elizabeth Clevinger, Rocco Schiavone, Sanjun Gu, Jayesh Samtani, Edgar Vinson, Amanda McWhirt, and Jose Guillermo Chacón
‘Liz’ and ‘Rocco’ are new short-day (June-bearing) strawberry (