Activities Involved in an IPM Program
Part 2, Section 1: Pest Management
Since the beginning of agriculture, crops have suffered losses to various kinds of pests. Although much progress has been made in managing pests, many persist and crop losses continue to occur. Pests that contribute to crop losses in Pennsylvania include insects, weeds, diseases, nematodes, slugs, and wildlife.
Single pest management techniques no longer are considered reliable to combat most pests. Many management practices have limited periods of effectiveness, while others can create side effects worse than the crop damage. Success in managing crop pests depends on how well economically effective technologies, old and new, can be integrated, while minimizing risk to health and the environment.
With increasing concern about food safety and water quality, the objectives of pest management are changing. Pest management decisions now must include environmental and human health risk considerations. While these factors are difficult to measure, they are of growing importance in crop production. Simplistic approaches such as routine applications of pesticides are no longer acceptable pest management practices. There are numerous effective pest management methods that when properly used reduce pest populations to economically acceptable levels. Using a combination of methods is the best approach to handling most pest problems.
Integrated pest management (IPM) may be defined as the use of multiple pest management tactics to efficiently produce crops, while minimizing the risk of undesirable environmental and health effects.
- IPM is a systematic approach to crop protection that utilizes increased information to make better pest management decisions, with an emphasis on integrating all available alternatives.
- IPM is a philosophy that promotes the collection of field-specific information to make rational pest management decisions. The goal is to increase information through field scouting and monitoring to facilitate selection of appropriate pest management alternatives, including the judicious use of pesticides.
- The IPM philosophy does not advocate completely eliminating pesticides, but rather recommends their appropriate use as a final defense against pests whose populations cannot be maintained at acceptable levels using other pest management tactics.
Activities Involved in an IPM Program
- Monitoring the crop for pest damage
- Identifying the cause of crop damage
- Determining the need for management
- Evaluating, selecting, and implementing pest management alternatives
- Assessing the success of a management alternative
- Keeping records
Effective IPM programs require more intensive collecting of information than routine spray programs. Table 2.1-1 shows the differences in activities required for an IPM program versus a routine spray program. Although an IPM program is more time-consuming to implement, the returns to investment can greatly exceed those of a routine spray program, particularly for occasional pests. All pests attacking field and forage crops in Pennsylvania fall into this category, with the exception of weeds.
As shown in Table 2.1-1, the sequence of IPM activities includes: (1) monitoring fields to detect crop damage or the potential for crop damage, (2) identifying the cause(s) of crop damage, (3) determining the need for management, (4) evaluating management alternatives, (5) selecting the most appropriate management alternative(s), (6) implementing the selected management alternative(s), (7) assessing management strategy performance, and (8) keeping records of pest problems and the field performance of the management strategy. Routine spray programs are less time-consuming because the farm manager uses only one possible management strategy, usually a pesticide, to manage the pest. No attention is paid to whether the pesticide is applied in an optimal fashion or directed at the correct pest species.
Additional information on pest management in Pennsylvania can be obtained from Penn State Cooperative Extension’s various publications. A catalog is available on the Internet at http://pubs.cas.psu.edu/, or you can use the following contact information to obtain a free copy:
Publications Distribution Center
Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences
112 Agricultural Administration Building
University Park, PA 16802-2602
Phone: (814) 865-6713
Fax: (814) 863-5560