Integrated Pest Management: How It Works and Why It’s Important

Hi Christophe. Hello Christian. Welcome to my farm. I am a consulting engineer for a crop protection company. My farm is split between conventional and organic farming. Integrated Pest Management has been part of our approach for many years and I welcome this opportunity to discuss it with you. Integrated pest management is a basic concept, whether in conventional or organic farming, that involves taking stock before applying pest control. For example, what we do here is to ask, does a particular insect represent a problem for the crop. If so, we will apply pest control treatment, if not we will leave well alone. For example, we have hedges that are home to a whole range of creatures that prey on crop parasites and we plant flowers to attract a variety of insects that combat the parasites attacking our crops. Being organic doesn’t necessarily mean that no crop protection treatments are used; there are also products for pest and disease control in organic farming. This means being trained in the use, handling and application of such products. Knowing that such products before they come on to the market, have undergone extensive studies, years of trials, and they need to be licensed before they can be used. Undoubtedly, it provides the consumer with security to know that European producers are subject to a system of Integrated Pest Management. Definitely. In the end, it’s up to you to decide among the different opinions you receive. Yes. The farmer is free to treat these various opinions as he likes. Absolutely. And free to use a product or not. It’s true that this is not always obvious to the consumer. Conventional farming means using all possible, modern methods of controlling predators in the field, including chemicals as a last resort, that’s true, but organic farming also uses products to control predators. But is it possible to imagine a world where no herbicides are allowed because there are machines available that can do the job. Perhaps we could also do without certain fungicides which may not be necessary. But keeping some products that will always be needed, you mentioned mildew treatment for example. So, could we arrive at a hybrid system in this way? It won’t happen tomorrow because when you consider, how labour intensive weed management would become, there is no question of going back to the way things were a hundred years ago, when more than half the population worked in the fields. This is not what I would call sustainable farming or fair trade. You have to live in the present and make the best use of the resources and technical advances that we have at our disposal. And you, with both farming methods on your farm, what do you think and where do you stand on this? I don’t think it is completely black and white, but the truth probably lies somewhere in between organic and conventional methods; when you look at what happens in practice, there are likely to be dangers and excesses on both sides. The idea that everything is either good or bad is completely outdated and it is up to us as scientists to raise the debate and explain things and why we do things. As a farmer, what I want to say to consumers is, trust us. After all, we have to comply with regulations and we shouldn’t forget that a farmer is someone who tries to get the best value from his work, who loves nature and wants to work in harmony with nature.

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