Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an approach to solving pest problems by applying science-based knowledge about pests to prevent them from harming plants, landscapes, buildings, or people while minimizing risks to people and the environment.
There are four key components of IPM:
- Mechanical and physical control: this strategy uses tactics to remove or block a pest, like a mousetrap or mulch that smothers weeds.
- Cultural control: these methods include choosing pest-resistant plant cultivars, improving soils, and fertilizing to support healthy plants.
- Biological control: these strategies protect, conserve and introduce natural enemies – like predators and parasites—to keep pest populations in balance and prevent significant damage.
- Chemical control: this strategy includes conventional and organic products to reduce damaging pest populations. Effective products are applied using techniques that minimize harm to people, non-target organisms, and the environment.
IPM programs combine a variety of management practices for greater effectiveness, including:
- Monitor plant health for early detection of pests.
- Maintain scouting records with calendars and maps of pest outbreaks.
- Assess pest population levels to determine damage potential and treatment thresholds.
- Identify, conserve, introduce and protect biological control organisms.
- Optimize timing of control measures based on season, pest life cycle, and environmental conditions.
- Select pesticides (organic or conventional) with the low human risk that: are short-lived in the environment, are proven to effectively control the specific pest or pathogen, pose little threat to natural enemies and non-target species, and are rotated with pesticides of different resistance classes.
- Choose equipment, nozzle, and application techniques to optimize control, reduce pesticide quantity and minimize drift to prevent off-target effects.
- Review and evaluate treatment efficacy; modify as needed