Integrated pest management (IPM) is an environmentally friendly approach to managing crops. “IPM is the careful consideration of all available pest control techniques”, the FAO describes on its website.
Integrated pest management includes implementing various biological, chemical, physical and crop specific (cultural) techniques. This encourages healthy crops and minimizes the use of pesticides. Reducing the use of pesticides reduces health risks to people and the environment. In this way, integrated pest management is a sustainable form of pest management.
Integrated pest management, as a sustainable form of agriculture, aims to:
Integrated pest management programmes include a number of steps. These are pest management evaluations, decisions and controls.
Growers usually employ a five-step approach while conducting integrated pest management.
The five steps include:
The 5 key elements of integrated pest management. Copyright Carlos Vasquez
When identifying the weed, insect, or plant disease it is ideal to have a sample of the pest. This ensures it is identified correctly.
Or use our Invasive Species Compendium identification guides. Check out the search function.
Setting an action threshold is one of the most important aspects of integrated pest management. It is the guideline that indicates when pest levels have been reached (i.e., the number of pests per unit area) to justify starting the tactics to avoid or diminish pest damage.
When setting action thresholds for your integrated pest management strategy, it is helpful to ask:
Unless the pest threshold is exceeded, the grower will not need to take any action. The cost of control should be less than or equal to the estimated losses caused by the pests, if left.
When a pest poses a threat to human health or safety, the action threshold should be reduced. For example, if grain and flour pests are found in food for human consumption.
Damage in the appearance of any product can cause concern. Damaged products are difficult to sell.
The thresholds should be based on regular crop monitoring. Keeping good records of pest populations is important.
The thresholds could be set based on:
Thresholds should be flexible. Monitoring and management should be adjusted as needed to find the right threshold for your situation.
Prevention is a key step in integrated pest management. It focuses on how to prevent pest populations from building up to economically damaging levels.
Integrated pest management aims to prevent pest problems. This method of pest management is often cheaper with better results in the long run. Even if prevention does not eliminate pests, it should lower their numbers. This makes them easier to control.
Among others, preventive actions include:
Pest control is required only if the action thresholds are exceeded.
Control methods include:
It is important to record pest control actions, to evaluate the success of the strategies implemented. This can be done by keeping:
Farmers must produce more crops to meet the demands of a growing global population. To reduce losses and boost yields, agricultural technologies must be continuously improved. The problem is to do so while maintaining environmental protection.
Integrated pest management is a critical component of the solution. It is used increasingly in developed and developing countries for long-term, sustainable agriculture. It produces sufficient, safe and high-quality food. It also improves farmer livelihoods, and conserves non-renewable resources.
Plant pathologist Louis K. Prom examines sorghum seeds infected by Colletotrichum sublineolum, the cause of sorghum anthracnose. Copyright U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agriculture Research Service (ARS) Photo by Peggy Greb/via Flickr – CC BY 2.0
The County of Santa Clara in the USA gives a helpful explanation of the overall benefits of an integrated pest management approach. It “integrates preventive and corrective measures to keep pests from causing significant problems, with minimum risk or hazard to humans and desirable components of their environment.”
Additionally, growers who use an integrated pest management approach can achieve these benefits: