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Integrated Pest Management (IPM) PDF Print E-mail
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What is IPM?

Integrated pest management (IPM) is socially acceptable, environmentally responsible and economically practical method of controlling pest populations.  IPM incorporates a variety of cultural, biological and chemical methods to efficiently manage pest populations while lowering dependence on chemical means of control.

The IPM approach can be applied to both agricultural and non-agricultural settings, such as the home, garden, and workplace. IPM takes advantage of all appropriate pest management options including, but not limited to, the judicious use of pesticides. In contrast, organic food production applies many of the same concepts as IPM but limits the use of pesticides to those that are produced from natural sources, as opposed to synthetic chemicals.

Benefits of IPM:

  • Promotes healthy plants, which better withstand damage from pests.
  • Reduces the need for pesticides by using several pest management methods.
  • Reduces excessive or unnecessary pesticide applications, which can negatively affect human health and the environment.
  • Promotes clean water. If water leaving your home contains pesticides, these can pollute streams, groundwater, or coastal regions.
  • Typically provides long-term control of pests, as opposed to more conventional short-term treatments.
  • Usually costs less to use IPM control methods.

How do IPM programs work? 
IPM is not a single pest control method but, rather, a series of pest management evaluations, decisions and controls. In practicing IPM, growers who are aware of the potential for pest infestation follow a four-tiered approach. 
The four steps include: 

1) Set Action Thresholds 
Before taking any pest control action, IPM first sets an action threshold, a point at which pest populations or environmental conditions indicate that pest control action must be taken. Sighting a single pest does not always mean control is needed. The level at which pests will either become an economic threat is critical to guide future pest control decisions.

2) Monitor and Identify Pests 
Not all insects, weeds, and other living organisms require control. Many organisms are innocuous, and some are even beneficial. IPM programs work to monitor for pests and identify them accurately, so that appropriate control decisions can be made in conjunction with action thresholds. This monitoring and identification removes the possibility that pesticides will be used when they are not really needed or that the wrong kind of pesticide will be used.

3) Prevention 
As a first line of pest control, IPM programs work to manage the crop, lawn, or indoor space to prevent pests from becoming a threat. In an agricultural crop, this may mean using cultural methods, such as rotating between different crops, selecting pest-resistant varieties, and planting pest-free rootstock. These control methods can be very effective and cost-efficient and present little to no risk to people or the environment.

4) Control 
Once monitoring, identification, and action thresholds indicate that pest control is required, and preventive methods are no longer effective or available, IPM programs then evaluate the proper control method both for effectiveness and risk. Effective, less risky pest controls are chosen first, including highly targeted chemicals, such as pheromones to disrupt pest mating, or mechanical control, such as trapping or weeding. If further monitoring, identifications and action thresholds indicate that less risky controls are not working, then additional pest control methods would be employed, such as targeted spraying of pesticides. Broadcast spraying of non-specific pesticides is a last resort.

 

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