Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a process that is used to control pest populations while minimizing the impacts on people and the surrounding environment. Focusing mainly on long-term pest prevention, a successful IPM program utilizes a combination of control methods including biological control, habitat manipulation, changes to cultural practices and use of resistant plant varieties. At the core of IPM is the desire to reduce pesticide use and human incursion into the ecosystem unless monitoring of pest populations indicates intervention is necessary.
1. Soil Preparation & Planting:
This begins with selecting the right Soil Medium for what, where and how you are growing. Make sure drainage and nutrition levels are sufficient for your crop selection.
Forecasting requires that we understand the kinds of pests that are common on the crops being cultivated and learn about their life cycles. Knowing a pest's life cycle allows you to take action early and effectively.
3. Pest Trapping & Monitoring:
Early and correct identification of pests is a key to determining the best strategy for further action. Important information is gathered during inspection and should be consistently recorded in order to gather all pertinent information about the pest.
Establish a threshold at which control measures must be taken. In most cases, a certain number of pests are tolerable. In general, when the cost of damage exceeds that of the cost of control it is time to intervene.
5. Cultural Controls & Sanitation:
Cultural controls should be taken regardless of thresholds being crossed or not. Crop rotation, intercropping and trap cropping are common forms of cultural control. Sanitation is imperative to a successful integrated pest management program in indoor, outdoor, or greenhouse settings as it removes organic and inorganic residues, helps reduce egg/spore populations and deters overwintering.
6. Biological Controls:
Once a pest population has been identified and monitored, Beneficial Insects or other Organisms can be introduced to control and suppress the continued growth of that pest population. Biological controls come in the form of beneficial insects, fungi, bacteria and more and should be chosen based on their effectiveness at controlling the identified pest in the environmental conditions you are growing in.
7. Chemical Controls:
If control cannot be achieved through trapping and the introduction of biological controls, using chemical controls may be necessary. Always be aware of the ingredients in chemical controls as they have different residual effects and compatibility with other products.
8. Record Keeping:
Make note of the types of pests that were present, what times they were present and the population levels they reached throughout the growing season.
9. Evaluation & Decisions for Upcoming Season:
Once your growing season has concluded, look over the records that you have kept and evaluate what was effective and what may not have been.