The Penton Ag/Farm Press online Continuing Education (CE) program has completed development and launched its 25th Web-based course.

Sponsored by SQM, a worldwide provider of specialty plant nutrients and chemicals, the free CE course focuses on utilization of potassium nitrate as a specialty plant nutrient that protects crops against disease organisms and plant stresses.

It also details how the nutrient potassium nitrate fits into an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program.

The course is accessible directly via www.pentonag.com/sqm1 or within the Farm Press/Penton Ag CE portal, www.pentonag.com.

It is currently accredited for 1 hour of continuing education by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation and 1.5 hours (Nutrient Management/IPM) by the American Society of Agronomy for Certified Crop Advisers (CCAs). Cal DPR has accredited it for all California state licensees and county pesticide permit/certificate holders. CE credit applications are pending in several other states.

Sam Carruth, sales and business development manager for SQM North America specialty plant nutrition, said sponsorship of the online course through Penton Ag and Farm Press is an opportunity to provide CE hours to busy working professionals as well as an online gateway to detail how potassium nitrate can prevent plant stresses. Carruth is based in Atlanta.

The course is entitled Utilizing Potassium Nitrate as a Specialty Plant Nutritional Product that Protects Against Disease Organisms and Plant Stresses/Principles of IPM.

SQM (Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile SA) is a Chilean producer of specialty plant nutrients and chemicals. Specialty Plant Nutrition (SPN) is one of the four company divisions. It comprises the production of  fertilizers and nutritional solutions under the brands Ultrasol, Qrop, and Speedfol and organic fertilizers under the brand Allganic. Through its subsidiaries and affiliates, SQM has operations established in South, Central and North America; Europe; Asia; the Middle East; Africa; and Oceania. The company’s products are sold and distributed in more than 100 countries worldwide.

Potassium nitrate is a water-soluble and virtually chloride-free source of nitrate-nitrogen and potassium nutrients. Due to the product‘s specific characteristics and benefits, target markets are related to high-value crops such as vegetables, fruits and flowers. Also, chloride-sensitive crops, such as potato, strawberry, beans, cabbage, lettuce, peanut, carrot, onion, blackberry, tobacco, apricot, grapefruit, and avocado, use chloride-free K sources, such as potassium nitrate, to enhance quality.

“When used correctly, potassium nitrate can be a valuable and economic source of crop protection in an IPM strategy, not only for its effective and environmentally sensitive aspects, but for its effects on overall plant health," said Carruth. This, he explains, creates a stronger, more resistant plant in a wide range of crops.

Greg Frey, Penton Media vice president and publisher of its agricultural products, said the launch of the 25th online CE course is a milestone in a program that continues to grow.

“To date, more than 37,000 courses have been completed online via the Penton Ag CE portal,” Frey said. “There are more than 6,500 agricultural professionals registered on the Penton CE portal and that number grows daily.”

Every state in the nation and more than 80 countries are represented within those 6,500 registrants. Penton Ag courses are now accredited in 20 states by state departments of agriculture. All courses are accredited for ASA/CCA CE units.

“The availability of this course worldwide via the Web is a unique marketing outreach for SQM to reach a very broad audience. We will be promoting the availability of the course in all of our world markets,” said Carruth.

“The partnership between Penton Media Online CE Program and SQM is testimony to the growing educational tool the Web represents,” said Frey, who added that several other courses are under development by the Penton CE development team.