Integrated Pest Management is a great step forward aiming to suppress and control pest populations below the Economic Injury Level (EIL).
IPM is an environmentally sensitive, scientific and a broad-based program that includes a combination of pest control methods and scientific principles to control and manage pest damage with the least possible hazard to people, property, wildlife, agriculture and the environment.
IPM – Where is it Applicable?
IPM is a next generation pest control approach that can lead to outstanding results when pest control techniques and prevention actions are chosen intelligently.
The Integrated Pest Management approach can be applied in both agricultural and non-agricultural settings like homes, workplace and gardens to control pests like insects, weeds, mites and plant diseases.
How does it Work?
Like mentioned earlier, this is a broad-based program that includes a series of techniques, evaluation and decision methods. For optimum pest infestation control, the process is divided into 5 steps. Here are the following:
1. First Things First-Set Action Thresholds
Remember the IPM emphasizes on pest control not eradication. Wiping out the whole pest population is simply not possible and attempts to do it can be extremely expensive and environmentally unsafe.
Therefore, the first step includes establishing the action thresholds. The thresholds are site and pest specific. The action threshold is the point at which the pest control action would be taken. The level at which pests become both life and economically threatening is critical to setting the action threshold.
2. Preventive Cultural Practices
What makes IPM approach unique and environmentally acceptable is that it strives to create unfavorable conditions for pests without damaging the environment and the life in the surroundings. After setting thresholds, the next step is to identify cultural practices that help maintaining and growing healthy crops while controlling pest population and lowering the need for fungicides.
Let’s just say under the IPM program this is the first line of defense. By combining plant quarantine and appropriate cultural techniques like crop sanitation and by adding beneficial fungi to the potting media of horticultural crops that are vulnerable and prone to root diseases can be a smart pest prevention and control practice.
3. Monitoring and Correct Pest Identification
Accurate pest identification is important for the success of IPM program. Not all insects and organisms are harmful or require control. Many are innocuous and some even facilitate crop growth.
Therefore it’s important to identify the pesticides threatening the environment or crop growth before prevention control decision is taken. For this monitoring of the site be it the fields, forest, home or building is vital.
Through monitoring and accurate pest identification you can easily determine the best pest control management strategy.
4. Devising a Pest Control Action Plan and Implementation
The pest control action plan is determined and devised according to the degree of pest infestation on the site and the action threshold determined.
Here are different types of control methods that are used to prevent and suppress pest infestation:
When pest infestation reaches to an unacceptable level and becomes a threat, then mechanical controls are the first options to consider. Mechanical controls largely include hand-picking, using traps, erecting insect barriers, tillage to curb breeding, vacuuming and steam sterilization for disease management of the soil.
In some pest prevention situations, biological controls are more suitable. These include natural biological insecticides that promote the growth of beneficial insects that parasitize or eat targeted pests.
These are used only when needed in combination with other approaches for more effective long-term controls. Since chemical controls can be harmful for the people and the environment, these must be used carefully and cautiously.
5. Result Evaluation
Once the IPM action plan is designed and implemented, then comes the evaluation of the results. This step reviews the IPM program results by finding answers to the relevant questions like:
- Did the actions deliver the desired effect?
- Was the pest infestation suppressed and managed to expectation?
- Were there any side effects or damage to the environment?
By finding the answers to these questions, you can evaluate whether the results were satisfactory or not.
Upon understanding the effectiveness of the implemented action plan, the site manager can rectify the Integrated Pest Management action plan prior to pests reaching the action threshold.