Chemical pesticides have been widely overused by farmers in Iran, but farmers’ criteria for pesticide selection and use are not well understood. A field survey of 411 farmers was carried out in Mazandaran, Iran, to study farmers’ criteria for selecting and using pesticides in the pest control process and explaining differences in selection criteria among farmers. From a list with a total of 25 criteria, five main groups were identified as key decision criteria for pesticide selection and use, using factor analysis. These groups included: (i) performance and effectiveness criteria, (ii) awareness and information criteria, (iii) technical and operational criteria, (iv) environmental criteria, and (v) financial and accessibility criteria. Performance and effectiveness criteria had the highest importance for farmers when selecting and using pesticides (mean 3.45), followed by financial and accessibility criteria (mean 3.28). Farmers who received training regarding pesticide use (mean 2.23 vs. 1.90) and farmers who had experience with integrated pest management (IPM) practices (mean 2.46 vs. 1.79) tended to consider environmental criteria when selecting and using pesticides. Similarly, farmers who experienced health risks related to working with pesticides (mean 2.0 vs. 1.77), farmers who used protection when spraying (mean 2.58 vs. 1.87), and farmers who knew about natural enemies of pests (mean 2.11 vs. 1.85) tended to consider environmental criteria when selecting and using pesticides. Farmers without off-farm income tended to consider financial and accessibility criteria more than farmers with off-farm income (mean 3.40 vs. 3.18). Farmers with college education favored awareness and information criteria, whereas experienced farmers favored the criteria of performance and effectiveness. Farmers with a high income showed a tendency to prefer performance and effectiveness criteria more than farmers with less income. Farmers who thought that pesticides are hazardous preferred environmental criteria more than farmers who thought that pesticides are not hazardous. Farmers who believed in the effectiveness of alternatives to chemical pest control (e.g., use of biological control, pheromone traps, or cultural control) preferred performance and effectiveness criteria less than farmers who believed no effectiveness or slight effectiveness of alternatives to chemical pest control. The findings provide useful information for better understanding factors affecting farmers’ choices of pesticides and for improving future extension courses related to farmers’ decisions about pesticide use.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited