Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in the Nursery

A variety of sustainable pest management
strategies are available for nurseries and this video is intended to give an
overview of Integrated Pest Management or IPM, as one of the basic concepts
behind sustainable pest management. According to the US Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA), IPM is an effective and environmentally
sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination
of common sense practices. Here at Grandiflora, we quit using
restricted pesticides a long time ago when we almost killed ourselves
with some methyl bromide. And since then, we’ve only been
using pesticides and fungicides that have a warning or caution label. We don’t spray, just blasting
everything in the nursery. What we’ll do is, we’ll do scouting
and look for problems, specific plants have different problems
at different times of the year, when it’s raining, you’re going
to have more fungus, when it’s dry, you’re going
to have more mites. And then our sprayers will come in
and spray those plants, usually with the safest chemicals available,
things that have very low re-entry times. And so we’re talking about
soaps, oils, Neem extract, stuff like that
is what we tend to use. We don’t enjoy spraying and we use
as few pesticides as possible. If we have a question about a problem,
we have some foliar symptoms, we have a lab nearby that we can
take our plants for analysis and find out if it is a pathogen,
whether we need to apply fungicides or maybe something nutritional
that we need to rectify that way. Nobody likes pesticides.
That’s pretty obvious. We like to use them
as little as possible. Great advantage of using this drip system,
capillary mats, less spraying, allowed us to quickly get away
from some of the harsher chemistries because the efficiency and efficacy of the new
and modern chemicals is so obvious to us. And even more so is the use of some
of the organics, some of the oils, the garlics, the clove extracts. All these
things work well in this environment. And, you know, we have to rely
on conventional pesticides, but in the rotation,
these things are phenomenal. They’re time savers. They’re money savers
and you just feel good about the environment when you can use so many less pesticides
and rarely use anything harsh at all. As far as herbicides for the woody plants,
you have to use them. There’s just no way to escape
using them in a nursery this size. If we were small, maybe you could come
hand pick things and keep ahead of it. Now the perennials and annuals
are a different challenge, because most herbicides cannot be used successfully
on a lot of the crops we grow. In cases like that, we’ve experimented
with many different things. We’ve tried some disks
that are made out of coco fiber. We’ve found that what works
quite well is actually mulches. If you can buy some pine bark nuggets
that’s a uniform size, or even cypress mulch, that has
worked good for us in the past. We even had a product once
that was made of recycled newspaper. One of the easiest and least expensive
components of IPM is the concept of Sanitation. This is a general pest management control
strategy based on the exclusion of pathogens, weeds and/or insects
from susceptible hosts. Sanitation includes many components
such as pest exclusion, low impact chemical
treatments for control, and use of environmental factors
to reduce pest populations. You also have to control
the weeds around the beds, we do that with post-emergent
spraying of RoundUp and we do mow our roads on a regular basis
to keep things from going to seed. Another pest management strategy is using
low-hazard chemicals to sanitize areas or control pests as is practiced at
James Greenhouse in Colbert, GA. Here workers sanitize propagation areas
between crops in order to prevent diseases from spreading
from one crop to another. On a larger scale, pathogens, as well
as weeds, can be effectively controlled simply by composting substrates
prior to their use in production. Temperature is of particular importance
in the composting process. There’s a 15 day period by which it has
to be at a minimum of 131 degrees and it gets turned
a minimum of 5 times. After that, it stays in those rows
for probably 7 or 8 weeks and then goes into what we call
a static pile where it continues to age and we usually get about 6 months of age
on it before we actually use it in our product. On a nursery-wide scale, the implementation of larger scale systems
can significantly help manage pests. One of the most important systems
in any production operation is irrigation which can prevent or lead to
significant pathogen problems. When we first started our business,
we were strictly overhead with the spinner type irrigation
that’s common now. But the amount of water for that type
of system and the porous soils you must use, the pumping cost, it’s still
not as efficient as the drip tape or the capillary mat that
we’re exploring right now. We just see that the disease pressure
from wetting the plants with an inch of overhead irrigation every night
is tremendous and we try to avoid that. In addition to the capillary mat treatment
used at Rvierview Flower Farms, two other forms of irrigation may
significantly reduce foliar pest problems. These include ebb and flood irrigation
as shown at James Greenhouses and low volume, or drip irrigation,
as seen at Southeast Growers and Monrovia. Some growers who utilize overhead
watering may minimize pest problems by treating irrigation water
prior to its application. This commonly includes
treatment with chlorine or ozone. IPM, including sanitation and “systems
approaches” to pest management are just some of the strategies growers
can use to sustainably manage pests. Many of these and other methods
of controlling pests require little investment,
input or time to implement. These can range from simply
scouting the nursery for pests through intensive infrastructure like
irrigation or water treatment systems. For additional information,
please refer to this document and others which are available
on the project website.

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