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August 2012

Integrated Pest Management Integrated pest management (IPM) is a new approach to an old problem. It emphasizes the importance of crop protection and the maintenance of appearance and quality by controlling pest populations while reducing the effects on humans and the environment (Bohmont, 2006). IPM uses a series of techniques, including chemical and biological control, to reduce the detrimental effects of pests. IPM 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. Pests and pathogens reduce yield by consuming or spoiling the harvestable plant part directly or indirectly to decrease the size of the leaf area. Thus, control relies significantly on the use of chemical pesticides and the breeding of disease resistant varieties. Both methods have been tried with resultant unintended consequences including significant reductions or complete destruction of beneficial pest predators as well as the target organisms. In addition, some pesticides are more persistent than others and can be taken up by plants, becoming a component of the food chain with detrimental effects on non-target organisms (Tivy, 1992). In conventional agriculture, pests and disease control are accomplished by many methods such as herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides. In the past, these methods have resulted in significant increases in crop yields and decreases in food cost to the consumer. However, the continued use of these chemicals have led to long term unintended, but destructive consequences that have called for the implementation of measures to reverse some of these detrimental effects. These effects included increases in pest resistance to pesticides, reduction in beneficial insects, land degradation and deterioration, environmental pollution and contamination. In an effort to minimize and eliminate the impacts of these effects, integrated pest management has been employed and strongly recommended as an integral component

of a farmer’s management plan. Integrated Pest Management combines numerous methods such as natural predators and parasites, cultural practices, pest resistant varieties, biological controls, mechanical controls, and chemicals as a last resort. It is a sustainable and environmentally friendly approach that can result in a considerable reduction in pesticide use. It is applicable to all types of agricultural systems. The combination of numerous practices makes IPM the most favorable strategy for organic farming. On the other hand, large-scale, chemical-based farms can implement the practices of IPM to reduce human and environmental exposure to dangerous substances, and ultimately lower overall cost. The goals of IPM are numerous. They include:

1. Increasing farm profits - farmers can increase their profit margins by preventing crop and pest problems before significant losses occur, applying chemicals in a safe, efficient, and limited manner, and avoiding unnecessary management practices. 2. Improve environmental quality – pesticides and fertilizers should be used cautiously and should be selected for specific targets with limited number of applications, particularly if other options are available. The reckless use of these chemicals can result in soil degradation and deterioration, contamination and pollution of surface and subsurface water sources, and the destruction of beneficial insects. 3. Improve public image of agriculture - the continued use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides in agricultural production has led to an outcry from environmentalists and others concerned with the negative impact of the use of these chemicals. This has led to the regulation of chemicals and restrictions on the use of some pesticides. Therefore, the implementation of IPM practices and the benefits to be derived from these would serve to improve the image of agriculture. (

Integrated Pest Management(

IPM Decision-Making Integrated Pest Management entails a six step process: 1. Identify the problem or pest – what pests and stages are causing the damage 2. Determine how severe the problem is (scouting, traps, past history) 3. Evaluate management options – a. do nothing, b. cultural, c. biological, d. chemical control 4. Select and apply one or more options 5. Measure the success of options employed 6. Record the results (Agrilife Extension, 2007) An IPM system can be fairly simple, however, the decision process can be quite complex. The system involves six basic components.

1. Acceptable pest levels:

The major objective of IPM is to determine an acceptable level at which control is necessary, therefore, eradication is not the goal. Eliminating an entire pest population is not possible. This can be costly and detrimental to the environment. Therefore, it is critical to decide on the acceptable pest population at which some method of control is necessary. 2. Preventive cultural practices: Choose crop varieties that do best under local environments. Provide crops with the best growing conditions, for example, adequate fertilizers, soil moisture, and a weed-free environment. These conditions will ensure that crops are healthy and able to withstand the harmful effects of pests and diseases. Other cultural methods that can be implemented include the use of crop rotation, cover crops, resistant varieties and plasticulture. 3. Monitoring: Regular observation is the basis of an IPM strategy. Visual inspection, insect traps and other methods are used to monitor pest levels. It is important to keep records of the reproductive cycles, behaviors, and prevalence of the pest in question.

4. Mechanical controls:

Mechanical control measures are first put into action when unacceptable pest levels are detected. These include hand-picking of pests, erecting insect barriers, using traps, vacuuming, and various tillage methods to interrupt breeding cycle.

5. Biological controls:

These natural biological processes and substances can provide control with the least negative impact on the environment and in a cost effective manner. The main goal of biological control is to increase the population of beneficial insects such as ladybugs and wasps, which can then feed on these pests and reduce the level of pesticide application needed.

6. Chemical controls:

Chemical control is considered the measure of last resort in the IPM system. These pesticides may be used when other control methods fail or are deemed unlikely to prove effective. However, caution is necessary to avoid overuse, minimize human contact, and apply the most appropriate and cost effective pesticide.

References Bohmont, B.L. 2006. Integrated Pest Management, The Standard Pesticide User’s Guide, 7th Edition. Pearson Prentice Hall, New Jersey, pp. 131-136. Overview of IPM Strategies, 2007. Texas A&M Department of Entomology, Agrilife Extension. Texas A&M, College Station, TX. Tivy. J. 1992. Agricultural Productivity, Agricultural Ecology. Longman Scientific & Technical, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. New York NY, page 103.

Author Annette A. James, PhD Assistant Professor and Research Scientist Cooperative Agricultural Research Center Phone: 936.261.2531 Fax: 936.261.2548

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Integrated Pest Management  

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