Integrated pest management (IPM)

May 17, 2018
  • Integrated Pest Management

Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management. It is a program that relies on a combination of common-sense practices. Integrated pest management programs use current, comprehensive information on the life cycles of pests and their interaction with the environment. This information, in combination with available pest control methods, is used to manage pest damage by the most economical means, and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment. IPM can be either organic or synthetic depending on the option you choose

The Integrated pest management approach can apply to both turf and non-turf 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.

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:

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.

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.

Prevention

As a first line of pest control, IPM programs work to manage the lawn, or outdoor space to prevent pests from becoming a threat. In turf, this may mean using cultural methods, such as mowing at the right height, soil testing or watering properly. These control methods can be very effective and cost-efficient and present little to no risk to people or the environment.

Control

When monitoring, identification, and action thresholds indicate that pest control is required and prevention is no longer effective it will activate the use of IPM programs. IPM programs then evaluate the proper control method both for effectiveness and risk. Effective, less risky pest controls are chosen first. This includes organic methods, highly targeted chemicals 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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