Integrated Pest Management © 2004

Prior to the IPM program we were spraying
twice a week every week. Now we’re spraying once a week but only about 10 to 15% of the
farm once a week versus the whole thing very week. The grower doesn’t want to use chemicals.
He really doesn’t. But you know, they have to and if they only have to use them once
as opposed to three or four times then that’s all the better. Integrated Pest Management,
or (IPM) is the process of planning and taking steps that will prevent or control pests.
Pests, of course, are those harmful or troublesome organisms that, left unchecked, can devastate
both crops and bankbooks. Traditionally, growers have relied on one main control method, chemical
control, to keep pest populations in check. Many farmers today are switching to IPM programs
because they offer the pest control they are looking for while at the same time allowing
them to reduce the use of expensive pesticides. IPM or Integrated Pest Management is a process
of planning and controlling and managing pests. It involves various different techniques in
doing that, whether they be cultural, biological or chemical and methods so that it’s environmentally
sound but also has economic benefits to the grower. You need to know about diseases, you
need to know about insects, you need to know about weeds and you have to have a fairly
good understanding of the science behind it. You need to know the techniques that are involved
in all those various different disciplines. But you also have to have an understanding
that IPM is about people. It involves a whole team of people. It involves the grower, it
involves the scout, the consultant, the researcher, the extension and with that team you are able
to make some informed decisions in order to implement an IPM program on your farm. This
video introduces you to the five components of IPM; Identification, Monitoring, Thresholds,
Methods of Control, Evaluation and will explain these steps using examples currently in practice
on Ontario farms. As you will see, IPM is very much a management approach to pest control.
You make your pest control decisions based on the knowledge that you have about your
own farm and the information that you collect during the season. The first step in the IPM
process is identification. You need to identify the pest and the beneficial organisms in order
to find out about their biology, life cycle, preferred habitat and other characteristics.
Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food Pest Management specialists as well as researchers
at the University of Guelph are good sources of information when it comes to pest identification.
There are a host of publications available that will help you identify the pest and provide
the kind of information you need to control them. Experienced scouts are also an asset.
Using this information, you can find out what stage and time is the best to control the
pest. The second step in a successful IPM program is monitoring. Monitoring is the regular
inspection and sampling you do to get an estimate of the size, extent and location of pest populations.
It provides you with the information you need to make your decisions. It is important to
sample correctly and at the right time. The information collected helps you decide whether
you need to take action or not. It is best that the same person does the monitoring throughout
the season. You can do the monitoring yourself, however, many growers today hire scouts to
monitor their fields and orchards for them. Chris Thomas of Chatham, Ontario has been
a professional scout for over ten years. Her client base has grown steadily over the years
made up of growers who have learned to trust her judgment. Going back about ten years now
I heard about Chris and I thought it was something we needed in our operation. As we got larger
it got more difficult to scout everything so I guess we look at it today like it’s
an insurance … looking over the field myself … for her to come in either before or after
me … and we can talk about the problem. I don’t know what we would do without it
now. Communication is 95% of the whole thing. You have to have a good relationship with
the grower. You do have to build that trust. I give them a report. I don’t just hand
it off and put it in their mailbox. If there is a problem I will give them a call and talk
to them about it. We’ll do some problem solving and we’ll talk back and forth. A
lot of the times I learn from the grower they don’t just learn from me. I learn from them
as well. They know their land best. They know what problems they have. They know spots in
their field where they’ve had problems before. So it’s a real co-operative effort and that
is crucial in consulting for somebody and being a scout. It think what you have to do
is have trust between the two of you so that when she leaves the field you trust that what
she says she meant and that you do what she says because if you’re just going to contradict
doing it I think there’s where the loss of money is. The cost of monitoring … for
some growers who haven’t done it before they seem to think it is a lot of money but
for $700 or $800 dollars to do a sight on my farm … I’ve got 100 acres and I feel
that is effective for that 100 acres. Whereas if I get a hot spot from the scout, I’ll
go check a couple other places where I know I have a little bit of trouble and it gives
me a heads up so $700 or $800 dollars for a season … I can’t go through and spray
water on my orchard for less than $2,000 if you figure my time, my equipment and my fuel
so $700 is nothing. Whoever does the monitoring, you need to record – the date, the pest species
present, the location in the crop, the number of pests per sample, the stage of development
of the pest and the crop, the crop variety or cultivar, and weather data. You can use
weather data such as temperature, rainfall, humidity, and leaf wetness to predict the
development of some pests. A well planned monitoring procedure is the backbone of a
successful IPM program. The third step in the IPM process, is to follow the thresholds,
or guidelines, established through research, for individual pests. Thresholds help you
decide whether pest controls are necessary, and if necessary, when to begin the controls.
Well when you use the term threshold that’s a level in which … of a pest … that the
tree can manage itself. So for instance, in mid-August you would say for mites … 10
active mites per leaf seems high for some people but that is counting nymphs and adults.
Your tree can probably manage that because it is coming towards the end of the season
and they can take that. Anything below that threshold, which is below 7 to 8 to 10 active
mites per leaf you don’t need to spray. Anything above that you should be spraying.
Your goal as a grower is to keep the pest under control at critical times, so that it
does not cause unacceptable loss. Usually, some damage is tolerable. It is up to you,
the grower, to decide when it is time to start controls. You need to watch for the threshold
limit by regular monitoring of your crops for pests and damage. You want a “no surprises”
growing season when it comes to pests. The fourth step is choosing the METHODS OF CONTROL.
Growers, who have adopted an IPM program, use a variety of control methods have a number
of options open to them besides just the chemical option. It really is a combination of approaches
that works in the battle against pests. Consider all of the controls available to you – physical,
cultural, biological, genetic, and chemical. Physical controls involve setting up physical
barriers, like screens, to keep pests away. It can also be the physical removal of the
pest or its habitat. Cultural methods are the practices you use for good land management.
Crop rotation is an approach that involves alternating crops to meet specific objectives,
such as reduced pest habitat, soil improvement, and reduced pest food sources. Biological
control methods use a pest’s natural enemies to keep pest numbers below treatment thresholds.
You can encourage these natural enemies by selecting pesticides that are not harmful
to them and by providing food and shelter for them. The other way is to release them
into your crop. Predator or parasites are now widely available for use in greenhouse
vegetable crops.Rob Hansen of Leamington, Ontario takes advantage of the physical, biological
and cultural controls available to him in his greenhouse operation. He has sealed his
greenhouse with screening material to physically prevent new pests from coming in from the
outside. He takes advantage of biological controls by releasing beneficial insects into
his greenhouse; these, beneficial, feed on the pests that feed on his chrysanthemums.
He can even control diseases by employing cultural controls, especially when it comes
to the manipulation of the greenhouse environment. Well, from a disease point of view, we’re
always manipulating the greenhouse environment from the standpoint of humidity control so
we don’t get in to certain diseases. We are venting and heating strategically in order
to keep the humidity levels at a point where those diseases aren’t able to flourish.
All of this has allowed Hansen to significantly reduce the amount of pesticide he needs to
spray. So those dollars saved in pesticide use and time, the cost of labour to apply
the pesticides, I would say more than pay for the bio-control organisms that we are
releasing into the greenhouse and the management time that it takes to oversee that. Genetic
control methods include choosing a cultivar, or variety based on its genetic characteristics.
Today, plant breeders are not only selecting individual plants with desirable characteristics
such as disease resistance, they are also able to incorporate genes from other species.
These are called genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. Examples include corn hybrids and
potatoes varieties that contain a protein of the soil bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis.
This protein will control a specific group of insects and this lessens the pest damage.
However, non-Bt crops must be planted with Bt corn hybrids so that the insects have a
reduced chance of developing resistance the protein. Chemical controls are really the
weapon of last resort in an IPM program. There are many pesticides available for sale, each
with unique characteristics. You need to consider your own pest management situation and select
the best pesticide to use. Even when it is necessary to spray, you can still reduce the
use of pesticides by using them wisely and only when and where they are necessary. Calibrate
your sprayer. Wherever possible, use a border spray rather than spraying the whole field.
The fifth step of IPM is evaluating the effectiveness of your program. This is the thinking part
of your program. Keep detailed records of everything you do to manage pests. Review
this information at the end of the growing season and make changes to your IPM program
if required. Ask yourself: Was the current pest management program effective? Did your
monitoring methods provide you with the information you needed? Were you able to forecast pest
problems? Did you record all the information you may need for defense against liability
suits? IPM is complex because pests are able to change and adapt. You need accurate records
of what you have done year by year in order to make smart management decisions when you
modify your plan , season by season. When it comes to pest management, remember; an
ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Think about how you can prevent pest problems
when you are making crop management decisions. Think about things like seed quality and varieties,
health of the soil, and plant nutrition. By using the five components of Integrated Pest
Management – identification, monitoring, thresholds, methods of control and evaluation, pest control
becomes a part of a total crop management system. IPM is a good business decision. It
helps growers produce high quality products, economically, with the lowest impact on the
environment and human health. Being in the packing business and dealing directly with
the chain stores we find it very important to be in an IPM program. The consumer doesn’t
really want to hear about pesticides. They would prefer that you didn’t spray any.
They don’t really understand the IPM program but they do understand that farmers are working
hard to reduce the amount of pesticide use and we will continue to work hard to lower
the levels of pesticide use because that is really what the consumer wants. And they are
the boss.

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