Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a widely recognized and practiced approach to pest control in agriculture. What are the principles of IPM and how is it used? In this blog post we’ll cover some valuable information about this comprehensive practice.
IPM is a broad approach to pest control that takes into account several common-sense practices and rotation of pesticide applications. By taking information about plant and pest life cycles into account, IPM functions intelligently to control pests in the most economical and least risk-creating way.
Is IPM Organic or Conventional?
IPM is not a single type of pest management, but several strategies used in conjunction with one another. As such, IPM does not belong exclusively to either conventional agriculture or organic agriculture, but can be and is frequently applied in both. Conventional agriculture may use certain commonly held cultural practices alongside a rotation of available synthetic pesticides. Organic agriculture may hold those same practices, but only use naturally derived biopesticides when treating crops. Or, an IPM program may likely use a combination of both types of pesticides.
Principles of IPM
Though one IPM program can differ greatly from the next, IPM generally follows these basic four principles:
- Monitoring and Identification: Careful and correct identification and continued monitoring of pests is essential. Observation and research into how pests are affecting a crop takes place before any action. This step avoids eliminating organisms that are actually beneficial or using the wrong kind or unnecessary pesticides.
- Action Thresholds: As part of the first step, setting action thresholds requires determining the point at which a pest population is large enough to become an economic threat and warrant further pest control action. Thresholds should be pest- and site-specific, and focus on controlling rather than eliminating the population.
- Prevention: Prevention is the first line of action and often includes simple choices in cultural control. This could involve crop rotation, appropriate irrigation, cleaning of tools, and selecting crops that thrive in the local environment. These methods are often very inexpensive and effective without posing a risk to other organisms.
- Control: Once preventative measures are no longer available or effective, control action is taken. Types of control often begin with methods least disruptive to the environment and move towards higher risk controls only when needed.
- Physical or mechanical control may involve manual removal by hand, weeding and tilling, or traps and barriers. These controls kill or remove pests immediately with little to no risk to other organisms.
- Biological control is the use of naturally derived chemicals to disrupt or kill pests. Beneficials (insects that control other insects), pheromones, biopesticides, biochemistries, and other actives against targeted pests are used with lower cost and risk.
- Chemical control is the application of synthetic pesticides. Used when the above controls are no longer effective, they are applied consciously by implementing targeted products, low-volume application methods, and other means of reducing cost and harm to unintended species.
Regardless of the types and quantities of the above principles and controls used, the essential component of any IPM program is rotation. Pest control methods are changed frequently and strategically to prohibit pests from adapting and becoming resistant to any one method. When only one type of control is used, pests easily become resistant, and increasing amounts of the same material or practice are needed to control them. By rotating methods through IPM, lower quantities of pesticides and other practices are needed.
Almost all farmers and growers practice IPM to some extent, ideally using every available pest control resource in an economical, efficient way that is most beneficial to the entire environment. Here at Soil Technologies Corp., we make a range of natural pest control products, including Garlic Gard and Nemastop to control pests, but they’re only one part of a larger rotation of methods and materials. We encourage all growers to use these and other products together with Integrated Pest Management in mind.