Integrated pest management (IPM) is a system of controlling pests integrating various techniques of pest control, without the need to use only pesticides. Some of the methods of IPM are habitat manipulation, biological control, use of resistant varieties, and modification of regular cultural practices. While some favor eliminating pests while reducing the reliance on chemicals and toxic pesticides, there are certain drawbacks which must be taken into account when using an integrated pest management system.
Integrated pest management systems are extremely complex and require a higher level of understanding to utilize. An IPM system of pest control involves a lot more time and is sometimes more costly than the traditional method of spraying pesticides to eliminate pests. In order for an IPM to work effectively, it needs constant monitoring. Also, the natural enemies of pests used in some IPMs can later become pests themselves.
Monitoring an IPM
The most important element of an IPM system is the monitoring aspect, and there are no shortcuts. The persons involved in the monitoring of the system need to be well-educated and in constant surveillance so that the system is successful in the elimination of the pests. They also need to have extensive knowledge about what natural enemies are effective for the specific pests of each type of crop. The use of biological control agents will vary greatly from one crop to another, and the risks of the usage need to be explored and monitored, so as not to harm other crops and vegetation in the area. A trained crop consultant will often be needed to help resolve some of the issues in the use of an IPM system.
Changing to an IPM
There is a lot of work and time involved in changing to an integrated pest management system. The routines and practices that are currently in place for pest control may need to be drastically modified. This process can take a lot of time and incur heavy expenses.
The correct identification of the pest harming the crop is an important step in the process of any pest control system. However, just knowing that a pest infestation has occurred is not enough to take action. IPM systems need to be able to differentiate between fungus, beneficial insects and harmful pests. If they fail to correctly do this, they may do more harm than good in their treatment plan. Some IPMs assume that the use of chemicals is never acceptable, and this thinking is not entirely correct.