Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an overarching strategy for preventing pests in your garden while minimizing risks to people and the environment; it is an ecosystem-based strategy that focuses on long-term prevention through: biological control, habitat manipulation, operational modifications, use of resistant plant varieties, and finally chemical control, or pesticides. IPM uses natural mitigation, environmentally friendly pesticides, and sustainable approaches to reduce harm to humans, livestock and wildlife, eliminating the need for toxic chemicals.
The Critical Elements of IPM:
Daily inspections. Inspections should include examination of: the plants themselves (stems, top & bottom of the leaves, and root zone) water sources, fertilizer sources, and equipment.
Pest identification. It is crucial to know thine enemy in order to implement the best practices for managing and eliminating a pest. If a cultivator can’t identify a pest, they can’t select the right control method.
Selection of control methods. Decide which methods to use is based on what the best practices are for each specific pest, where the plant and pest are in their respective life cycles, and being in legal compliance.
There are five primary control methods: cultural, physical, genetic, biological, and chemical.
Cultural Controls: Cultural controls modify the environment to make the cultivation operation an unaccommodating habitat for pests. They involve practices such as adjusting the irrigation schedule to combat root disease, reducing humidity to make the environment less hospitable to pathogenic fungus and shaping the canopy to facilitate superior airflow.
Physical Controls: Physical controls use mechanical devices and physical methods to prevent, trap and remove pests, such as filters on air intakes, the placement of sticky traps, and the removal of diseased plant material.
Genetic Controls: Genetic controls emphasize selecting and breeding pest-resistant varieties and manipulating pest genetics. Genetic controls used by a cultivator would be culling all susceptible varieties from their grow, planting only resistant varieties, and altering the pests’ ability to procreate.
Biological Controls: Biological controls use natural predators, parasites, pest diseases and other organisms to counter the effects of pests or to prevent them altogether. Beneficial fungi and microbes inoculated into the soil increase nutrient uptake and the plant’s disease resistance. Nematodes can be released into the soil to kill larvae of thrips and other insects that lay their eggs in soil. Biological controls use nature to combat nature.
Chemical Controls: Chemical controls, or pesticides, should be used when other control methods are insufficient, and only when it would be effective in the pest’s life cycle. Pesticide selection and use within an IPM program is designed to identify ecologically sound options that are effective while minimizing harm. There are three products we love for IPM, which are safe for humans, animals & the planet: PureCrop1, Trifecta Crop Control, and NukeEm