The National Road Map for Integrated Pest Management defines IPM as a “science-based, decision-making process that identifies and reduces risk from pests and pest management related strategies."
Simply put, IPM combines the use of multiple strategies to control pests and the impacts thereof. This includes animals, insects and weeds.The 3 cornerstones of IPM include:
- Using multiple complementary control tactics.
- Maintaining pest populations below the levels that would cause economic damage.
- All the while conserving the environment
There are 3 main stages for any IPM program:
- Prevention: avert the arrival of the pest. Strict sanitation methods can help exclude any pests from appearing.
- Control: if the pest infestation is already apparent, employ the necessary control measures to keep them from getting out of hand.
- Eradication: the use of numerous methods such as chemical sterilization, hand-removal and introducing natural enemies to eliminate the pest.
As aforementioned, IPM focuses on the integration of numerous complementary tactics. Not only does this improve the efficacy of pest control, but it also reduces the likelihood of any resistance buildup.
Some of the methods include:
- Scouting: look for pests in the fields and growing areas. Keep records detailing the number and species of pests found. Scouting should be done on a continuous basis.
- Prevention: keep a pest from invading a new area. Achieve this by only planting certified seed and using strict sanitation practices.
- Mechanical practices: physically destroy the pests. Methods can include tilling, hand-weeding, mulching, burning and flooding.
- Cultural practices: an indirect method of pest control. Practices may include crop rotation, selecting resistant varieties and ensuring your plants are in optimum health.
- Chemical control: using pesticides and herbicides to eliminate pests. Usually very effective, but are may harm off-target organisms, contaminate the environment and contribute to the buildup of resistant pests.
- Biological control: using other biological organisms to reduce pest populations. Natural enemies that prey on the pest may be introduced. Other methods involve the use of mulches and deterrent or attractive neighbor plants.
If you wish to produce high quality, healthy plants you will need a pest management program. When introduced properly, IPM is one of the most effective strategies. Whilst it may require thorough planning and development, the benefits will be more than worthwhile. Your plants will be of optimum standards and you can boast about your environmentally-friendly practices.