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Scouting is the most widely used integrated pest management (IPM) technique. It has been argued that only independent crop consultants provide unbiased scouting information. In contrast, chemical dealers inflate scouting reports and/or reduce economic thresholds in order to increase pesticide sales while farmers may use excessively low treatment thresholds due to risk aversion and/or overestimation of pest pressure. Since the majority of scouting is done by farmers and chemical dealer employees, it follows that scouting may not be a very effective means of reducing reliance on chemical pesticides. This study applies an implicit demand formulation of the Lichtenberg-Zilberman damage abatement model to data from a survey of Maryland field crop growers to examine differences in pesticide demand between growers using scouts trained and supervised by extension and those using chemical dealer employees or scouting themselves. Our results give partial support to those skeptical of the quality of scouting by farmers themselves and by consultants working for chemical dealers. We found that soybean growers using extension trained scouts had significantly lower pesticide demand than those using chemical dealer employees or scouting themselves. However, we found no significant differences in the pesticide demands for alfalfa, corn, and small grains. Since soybeans in Maryland are substantially more pesticide-intensive than corn, alfalfa, or small grains, these results suggest that it does matter who scouts when there is scope for substantial savings in pesticides.


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