What are the Principles and Practices of IPM?

Agricultural IPM and Community IPM differ in many ways but share the same basic principles of prevention, monitoring, careful analysis of risk, and risk-reduction. Some key practices of Agricultural IPM include:

  • Soil Preparation: Growers give their plants a head start on pest problems by choosing the proper site, testing the soil, rotating crops, creating raised beds where necessary, and providing sufficient organic matter.
  • Planting: Growers plant crops that tolerate common problems, altering planting time and spacing to discourage certain diseases and insects.
  • Forecasting: Weather data are consulted to predict if and when pest outbreaks will occur. Treatments can then be properly timed, preventing crop damage and saving sprays.
  • Pest Trapping: Traps that are attractive to insects are used so that growers can pinpoint when the pest has arrived and decide whether control is justified.
  • Monitoring: Growers inspect representative areas of the fields regularly to determine whether pests are approaching a damaging level.
  • Thresholds: Before treating, growers wait until pest populations reach a scientifically determined level that could cause economic damage. Until that threshold is reached, the cost of yield and quality loss will be less than the cost for control.
  • Cultural Controls: The pest’s environment it then disrupted by turning under crop residues, sterilizing greenhouse tools, and harvesting early.
  • Biological Controls: It is necessary for growers to conserve the many beneficial natural enemies already at work. They import and use additional biologicals where effective.
  • Chemical Controls: Growers select the most effective and appropriate pesticide and properly calibrate sprayers. They then verify that weather conditions will permit good coverage without undue drift.
  • Recordkeeping: Records of pest traps, weather and treatment are kept for use in pest management decisions.

Community IPM is an approach to managing pests in buildings and landscapes including homes, businesses, rights-of-way and recreational areas using proactive, preventative, knowledge-based and low-risk methods.  Community IPM practitioners work to identify and correct pest-friendly conditions,  eliminating access to food, water and harborage by improving sanitation, maintenance, exclusion and landscape management practices. By correcting the conditions that lead to pest problems and using approved pesticides only when necessary, IPM provides more effective pest control while reducing pesticide use.

Key practices include:

  • Inspection and Monitoring: Regular, close examination of structures and landscaping to accurately diagnose pest problems and their sources. Monitoring devices such as sticky traps for insects can indicate pest presence, abundance and direction of travel.
  • Sanitation, Pest-Proofing and Exclusion: Food and water sources and harborage are identified and eliminated.
  • Communication: Educating building occupants to avoid pest-friendly conditions and unauthorized pesticide use, and to report pest sightings promptly.
  • Recordkeeping: Documenting pest complaints, inspection and monitoring results, pesticide applications and recommendations.
  • Low-Risk Pesticides: Non-chemical methods including prevention are the first line of defense. If pesticide use is necessary, products are available such as baits, gels and dusts, with low-toxicity active ingredients applied in ways that greatly limit potential for exposure.