IPM is the selected use of pest control actions applicable to most amenity, public health, and agricultural pest control situations to ensure favorable social, ecological, and economic consequences according to delseapestcontrol.net. It is a broad-based approach with the aim of suppressing pest populations below the EIL (Economic Injury Level) by the use of integrated practices for the economic control of pests. It is used in horticulture, forestry, agriculture, preventive conservation, human habitations, and general pest control including structural, ornamental, and turf pest management.
The process starts with inspection and identification and is followed by the establishment of Economic Injury Levels that set economic threshold levels. Once a threshold has been reached appropriate steps are taken to reduce and control the population of pests. A variety of actions are employed including physical barriers, biological controls, and cultural controls such as adding or conserving natural predators to the pests. Finally, pesticides or chemical controls are employed as a last resort. IPM used on conventional farms can help reduce environmental and human exposure to harmful chemicals and can potentially lower overall production costs.
Other tactics have recently become part of the pest management framework such as cultural manipulations and host plant resistance with the combined efforts of entomologists, nematologists, plant pathologists, and weed scientists. The main focus of IPM programs was originally on agricultural pests, but new programs have been developed to include weeds, diseases, and other pests that could interfere with the management of sites such as commercial and residential structures, turf and lawn areas, and community and home gardens.
IPM Systems in America
In America an integrated pest management system has 6 basic components:
1. Acceptable pest levels where the emphasis is placed on control instead of eradication which could be unsafe and expensive. Acceptable action thresholds are established and controls applied when these have been crossed by pest populations.
2. Preventive cultural practices involve selecting varieties that are most suitable for local conditions and maintaining the health of crops as the first line of defense.
3. Monitoring by regular observation is considered critically important to inspect, identify and record the behavior and reproductive cycles of targeted pests.
4. Mechanical control methods are the first options when pest populations have reached unacceptable levels and include barriers, tillage, traps, vacuuming, and simple hand-picking to disrupt breeding.
5. Natural biological controls provide effective pest control combined with an acceptable impact on the environment, often at a lower cost. The method involves promoting beneficial insects that target unwanted pests, and biological insecticides obtained from microorganisms such as entomopathogenic nematodes and fungi.
6. Synthetic pesticides are used responsibly and only during specific times during a pest’s life cycle. Matching application techniques to specific pests and crops is critical for the successful control of pests.