WHAT IS INTEGRATED PEST MANAGEMENT?
Pests, insects, and weeds can present major challenges during cultivation as each one, when left to their own devices, works against the farmer’s goal of impressive yields. While pesticides provide a lot of benefits in these areas, they can be costly, dangerous to humans and can fall short of killing adaptable or downright dominant insect groups.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM), on the other hand, is a technique that focuses on providing a sustainable approach to pest control that not only kills unwanted pests but also causes no harm to the environment.
Although IPM doesn’t automatically discourage the use of pesticides, it promotes the thought of using pesticides only in selective areas that require immediate attention and finding complementary, often natural ways to address long-term challenges.
Simply put, IPM involves a mixture of techniques that ensure it alleviates the population of pests while also considering the long-term health of the farmland and its farmers.
The techniques used in IPM1 include:
- Mechanical Controls
- Cultural Controls
- Biological Controls
- Chemical Controls
We have broken down the differences in each below.
Mechanical Control: This type of technique is the most basic and as such, the most commonly used. It involves the direct killing of pests and insects by using mechanical force or by making the environment unfit for them. Usage of traps, screens, fences and other obstacles make it possible for some organisms and impossible for others to thrive.
Cultural Control: This technique works on the ideology of stopping pests and insects from reproducing. This involves changing the pests' environment to make it uninhabitable to those seeking a place to further establish and grow their species. Poisoned food can also be used to infiltrate a family of pests and kill them where they reproduce.
Biological Control: This technique involves the introduction of bugs or parasites called 'Predators' that are sent into the field to kill unwanted pests and interfere with their biological and seasonal breeding cycle. This technique is quite selective as the predators prey on particular insects only. While the term “predator” seems intimidating, they are easily the lesser of two evils and are often a welcomed addition to the long-term ecosystem. Think ladybugs eating aphids or dragonflies eating mosquitoes.
Chemical Control: Finally, the chemical control practice is viewed by many as a last resort due to the inherent dangers presented. If the above three practices fail to protect the field from pests, a very small percentage of pesticides are used in specific areas to kill what remains, being as careful as possible not to kill anything but the unwanted pests.
THE IPM2 MODEL
Over the past two decades, robots and automation, and more recently AI and machine learning, have begun to infiltrate IPM by providing unmatched monitoring, data gathering, and intervention where needed based on data-driven predictions to improve IPM and the production of the crops it protects.
Technologies supporting IPM include the essential monitoring as well as a collection of applications that can:
- Identify hotspots: Strategic setting of boundaries and action plans based on historical data on pest trends.
- Observe patterns: Tracking attack patterns, rest patterns, and breeding patterns of pests as a way to proactively intervene.
- Monitor all activities: Keeping an eye on the field and the crops and using traps and predator bugs to stop overfeeding by insects.
- Intervention as-needed: Using modern control methods discussed above to produce a yield that has high economic potential.
- Increasing awareness via collaboration: Talking to the growing community of IPM experts; sharing data, self-educating, and taking consultations to effectively leverage each opportunity.
Regardless of the challenges you face, there is no single solution to pest management. If you would like to learn more about the options and benefits behind Integrated Pest Management, then we invite you to reach out to one of our specialists directly, to set up a no-obligation review of your current approach and recommendations for how you can improve.
- What is Integrated Pest Management. (n.d.). Retrieved from UC IPM: https://www2.ipm.ucanr.edu/What-is-IPM/
- What is IPM. (n.d.). Retrieved from Farm BioSecurity: https://www.farmbiosecurity.com.au/what-is-integrated-pest-management/