Integrated pest management (IPM), also known as Integrated Pest Control (IPC) is a broad-based approach that integrates practices for economic control of pests. IPM aims to suppress pest populations below the economic injury level (EIL). The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation defines IPM as “the careful consideration of all available pest control techniques and subsequent integration of appropriate measures that discourage the development of pest populations and keep pesticides and other interventions to levels that are economically justified and reduce or minimize risks to human health and the environment. IPM emphasizes the growth of a healthy crop with the least possible disruption to agro-ecosystems and encourages natural pest control mechanisms.Entomologists and ecologists have urged the adoption of IPM pest control since the 1970s.IPM allows for safer pest control.[clarification needed] This includes managing insects, plant pathogens and weeds.
Globalization and increased mobility often allow increasing numbers of invasive species to cross national borders. IPM poses the least risks while maximizing benefits and reducing costs.
For their leadership in developing and spreading IPM worldwide, Perry Adkisson and Ray F. Smith received the 1997 World Food Prize.
How do IPM programs work?
Set Action Thresholds – Before taking any pest control action, IPM first sets an action threshold, a point at which pest populations or environmental conditions indicate that pest control action must be taken. Sighting a single pest does not always mean control is needed. The level at which pests will either become an economic threat is critical to guide future pest control decisions.
Monitor and Identify Pests – Not all insects, weeds, and other living organisms require control. Many organisms are innocuous, and some are even beneficial. IPM programs work to monitor for pests and identify them accurately, so that appropriate control decisions can be made in conjunction with action thresholds. This monitoring and identification removes the possibility that pesticides will be used when they are not really needed or that the wrong kind of pesticide will be used.
Prevention – As a first line of pest control, IPM programs work to manage the crop, lawn, or indoor space to prevent pests from becoming a threat. In an agricultural crop, this may mean using cultural methods, such as rotating between different crops, selecting pest-resistant varieties, and planting pest-free rootstock. These control methods can be very effective and cost-efficient and present little to no risk to people or the environment.
Control – Once monitoring, identification, and action thresholds indicate that pest control is required, and preventive methods are no longer effective or available, IPM programs then evaluate the proper control method both for effectiveness and risk. Effective, less risky pest controls are chosen first, including highly targeted chemicals, such as pheromones to disrupt pest mating, or mechanical control, such as trapping or weeding. If further monitoring, identifications and action thresholds indicate that less risky controls are not working, then additional pest control methods would be employed, such as targeted spraying of pesticides. Broadcast spraying of non-specific pesticides is a last resort.
The Six IPM Program Essentials
These are six essentials for a successful IPM Program
- Monitoring. This includes regular site inspections and trapping to determine the types and infestation levels of pests at each site.
- Record-Keeping A record-keeping system is essential to establish trends and patterns in pest outbreaks. Information recorded at every inspection or treatment should include pest identification, population size, distribution, recommendations for future prevention, and complete information on the treatment action.
- Action Levels Pests are virtually never eradicated. An action level is the population size which requires remedial action for human health, economic, or aesthetic reasons.
- Prevention Preventive measures must be incorporated into the existing structures and designs for new structures. Prevention is and should be the primary means of pest control in an IPM program.
- Tactics Criteria Under IPM, chemicals should be used only as a last resort only, but when used, the least-toxic materials should be chosen, and applied to minimize exposure to humans and all non-target organisms.
- Evaluation A regular evaluation program is essential to determine the success of the pest management strategies.