Integrated Pest Management, also known as IPM, is an ecosystem based strategy with the goal of long term prevention pests and the damages they cause through a combination of techniques and methods. This includes biological control, habitat manipulation, modified cultural practices, and resistant varieties. The goal of IPM is to get rid of pests that are harming the plant without causing detrimental consequences to the environment. Chemicals, such as pesticides, are not used until it is proven that none of the other methods work and are used in the smallest amount possible in order to get rid of the pests. Treatment plans used during integrated pest management are applied in a way to minimize risks to human health, beneficial organisms and the environment.
Integrated Pest Management is growing in popularity and awareness. At one point, it was not being practiced at all in the US but now it is being practiced on 4 to 8 percent of the US crop acreage. This is a small amount compared to the 75 percent that the organization was hoping for. The US has the largest percent of acreage trying to be controlled by integrated pest management. The global practices are less than 5 percent.
Advantages of integrated Pest Management are that it focuses on lowering the amount of pesticides used and focuses on using less harmful methods of pest management. This helps to maintain a balanced ecosystem, slows down the developing resistance to pesticides, and lowers the impact of chemical substances on the biota in the ecosystem. It promotes more economic friendly methods of getting rid of the pests that are harmful to farmers all over the world. Disadvantages are that it is time and energy consuming. It also has a risk of pests developing resistance, chemical and labor costs, damage to the environment by altering its courses, and risk of pesticides on marketed products.
IPM has not grown like the people thought that it would. In fact, many people oppose integrated pest management. The reason that people oppose IPM is because of the use of pesticides. Pesticides can be very beneficial but are harming the growth of the idea of IPM because of their risks. The use of pesticides can cause pests to become resistant, have a high price, are toxic to animals and plants, raise concerns about human health and groundwater, and the overall environment safety. Although pesticides can help the environment, we do not fully know the extent of how harmful they are. This is a major reason why people do not want to practice Integrated Pest Management strategies.
Some practical examples of IPM come from using the PAMS method. Prevention is the first step and includes methods such as using pest free seeds, preventing weeds, and using sanitation procedures to eliminate ways for pests to get into the crops. Avoidance includes crop rotation, traps, and using fertilization methods. Monitoring includes the use of surveys, trapping, weather monitoring, soil monitoring, and keeping records of the health of your crops. Suppression includes covering crops, temperate management, mating disruption and biological controls. Using the PAMS method results in only using pesticides as a last resort, if no other method will work.
Good soil management is essential to having healthy crops. We know that pests can feed on the plants which will destroy the plants. However, many people do not know that the key to preventing insects starts in the soil. Removing infested plants from a field will reduce the carryover of pests from one growing season to the next. If you practice safe pest management strategies, the quality of the soil and plants alike will be of higher quality. Removing pests from the plants will allow the plants to stay healthy so that they can help maintain the quality of the soil. When you keep pests away from the plants, they will be able to hold the soil in place and undergo their functions which will keep the amount of nutrients in the soil constant.