Chapter 11

Integrated Pest Management on Organic Farms

(book excerpts)

Integrated pest management (IPM) is a balanced, tactical approach in managing diseases, insects, weeds, and other pests utilizing a wide range of pest control strategies or tactics. It involves taking action to anticipate pest outbreaks and to prevent potential damage to crops in the field. The goal of this strategy is not eradication but to prevent pests from reaching economically or aesthetically damaging levels with the least risk to the environment. IPM programs are very site-specific. IPM is based on the identification of pests, accurate measurement of pest populations, assessment of damage levels, and knowledge of available pest management strategies or tactics that enable the grower to make intelligent decisions in controlling pests. IPM is adaptable to all field-grown crops and involves specific techniques in managing pests. Successful IPM programs use a six-tiered implementation approach: 1) monitoring crops for pests, 2) accurately identifying pests, 3) developing economic thresholds, 4) implementing integrated pest control tactics, and 5) record keeping. The focus of IPM is to use a combination of integrated pest management control tactics—cultural, mechanical/physical, biological, biorational, and chemical—to deal with existing pest problems, rather than relying solely on pest control materials such as insecticides. This involves knowledge of pest life cycles and an understanding of crop production.

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