What an IPM Program Looks Like
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is about more than just spraying chemicals to treat pest infestations; and it’s more than just pest control; it’s a strategy that incorporates elements of pest management with knowledge, communication, and planning (Figure 1). Check out “The new IPM paradigm for the modern ages and the growing world population” by Surendra K. Dara for a deeper look into integrated pest management.
Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail
Every IPM Program should incorporate these basic principles: prevention, pest identification, monitoring, setting action thresholds, applying various control methods, and evaluation of management results. Ultimately, the goal is to keep the crop clean from the beginning of the cultivation process. Establishing a preventative treatment of biological controls (or chemicals if you must), along with biosecurity and sanitation standards and protocols will reduce the risk of pest infection and outbreak. Be sure your staff can identify pests, pathogens, as well as biological control agents at all of their life stages (including damage). A scouting routine to closely monitor plants for pest pressures and beneficial presence should be established. Setting action thresholds will help you decide when it’s time to apply one or more of the control methods (biological, chemical, cultural/behavioral, genetic, mechanical/physical) to your crop. Lastly, continuous improvement through evaluation of your IPM program is critical to maintaining a clean, healthy crop.
Our IPM programs are designed after we complete a CropWalk Audit™, in which we take a look under the hood of your operation to fully grasp your pest control needs. This allows us to create a program that is completely unique to your final products, cropping system, genetics, unique structures, and infrastructures, as well as current (and likely) pest and pathogen pressures.
So what does a highly-customized and unique CropWalk-designed IPM Program actually entail?
Outlines the IPM team members, their roles/responsibilities, and contact info
Relevant contractors and consultants contact info
Details of all possible pest and pathogen pressures
(primary, secondary, and tertiary) including lifecycles, identification through various life stages, where to find the pest, how to scout for it, what plant damage looks like, and more about its biology and ecology.
Trap crop options for primary pests, at least, including care advice for those plants, including propagation techniques (such as seed collection) so you needn’t be bringing new plants in from off-site.
A scouting plan with schedule variations for different pressure levels based upon action thresholds and different stages in the production/lifecycle of the crop. Include data collection points (collect, organize, analyze, implement change as needed) for any relevant, desired, or useful QC or R&D inquiries.
A preventative treatment schedule for biological, bacterial, and chemical control options outlined and detailed, including references to modifications set by shifting action thresholds. Unique production areas on the same property or areas with different operational goals often require different schedules, which themselves must be flexible to respond to dynamic pressures and growing BCA populations.
Action thresholds (with various levels of response planned and developed with the foresight of multiple pressures at once; considering economics, aesthetic requirements, resulting plant health, and nearby pressure levels).
Details of all biological control agent (BCA) options
including biology, ecology, lifecycles, habitat requirements, banker plants (and how to care for them), and quality assurance of BCAs (receiving, storage, and application SOPs for each species).
Biosecurity protocols (including cultural and physical control options, referencing relevant SOPs; for example, sanitation, plant production, and training requirements)
Communication plans. For speaking with others about your use of IPM: fellow producers, consumers of your end line products, regulatory agencies, the media, your neighbors, and your community at large.
Copies of all the SOPs referenced throughout
A training log
Emergency personnel & locations of emergency response equipment
Any additional supplemental documents referenced within
This document can, and should, be cross-referenced with all relevant management systems and operational guidelines, certainly not limited to SOPs.
A strong IPM plant does more than just integrate various control measures for pests and pathogens, it integrates IPM into all aspects of operational management since all aspects of an operation influence IPM success.
If you want to improve or create a detailed IPM Program, but need help we’re just the #FarmersHelpingFarmers you need.
Until next time,