Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
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Photo credit: Andy Bauer.
What is integrated pest management?
Integrated pest management, or IPM, is a strategy of long-term invasive species and pestAn organism (plant, animal, or insect) that damages or interferes with desirable plants or habitats. control that minimizes risks to people and the environment. IPM is used to manage pests anywhere in a watershed – in urban, agricultural, forest, or natural areas.
How does integrated pest management work?
IPM is not a single pest control technique, but rather a series of management evaluations, decisions, and controls. Monitoring and correctly identifying problematic species is essential when applying IPM. Monitoring means checking your field, landscape, or forest to identify which pests or invasive species are present, how many there are, and what damage they are causing. Correctly identifying a pest is key to deciding whether a species is likely to become a problem and determining the best way to address the concern.
After monitoring and identifying a pest, you can decide whether the species can be tolerated or whether the problem warrants control. If control is needed, you’ll need to select a management technique such as prevention or applying cultural, mechanical, biological, or chemical controls. Oftentimes, IPM uses a combination of control techniques.
Components of integrated pest management:
Using measures to prevent pests from becoming a threat is the first step of pest control. Once a species has entered an area and become established, eradication is far more expensive, and it is likely that greater resources will be required to control further spread. Prevention control techniques include installing barriers to keep rodents or insects out of crops, minimizing debris that could attract pests, and avoiding planting species that may spread quickly.
- Cultural control
Cultural controls are deliberate practices that modify an environment aimed to reduce pests from establishing, reproducing, and spreading. For example, rotating crops interrupts the normal life cycle of insect pests by placing them in a habitat that is no longer hospitable.
- Mechanical & physical controls
Mechanical and physical controls kill pests directly or make an environment unsuitable for them. Setting traps for rodents is an example of a mechanical control. Physical controls include laying down mulches for weed management, removing invasive weeds by hand, or spraying a plant with water to knock off mites.
- Biological control
Biological control, or biocontrol, is the practice of using an organism’s natural enemies – predators Insects and animals that kill pests or weeds by eating them., parasitoidsAn insect who lives in, on, or with another organism (typically insects) and obtains food and shelter at the host’s expense., and pathogensA bacteria, virus, or microorganism that causes disease. – to control pests and their impacts. For example, releasing ladybugs in a garden or greenhouse can help control an aphid infestation.
- Chemical control
Chemical control is the use of pesticides. In IPM, pesticides are used only when needed and in combination with other IPM techniques. Pesticides are selected and applied in a way that minimizes their possible harm to people, non-target species, and the environment.
Remember, the label is the law!
For additional information on how you can use IPM on your property, we recommend:
- National Pesticide Information Center
National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) features objective, science-based information about pesticides and pesticide-related topics to enable people to make informed decisions.Visit npic.orst.edu
- GardenSmart booklet
The GardenSmart booklet highlights plants gardeners and landscape designers should avoid because they are invasive, and provides information about non-invasive alternatives, both native and non-native.Download the PDF Booklet
- Grow Smart, Grow Safe guide
Grow Smart, Grow Safe guide to lawn and garden products provides recommendations on a variety of sustainable pest and weed control techniques.Visit growsmartgrowsafe.org
- Oregon State University
Oregon State University’s Oregon’s IPM Center provides a collection of resources aimed at helping farmers with pest management.Visit agsci.oregonstate.edu/oipmc