What is IPM? Things to consider when making pest management decisions.

When you break it down, IPM is about knowledge,
prevention, observation, and at times taking action. When it comes to knowing your enemy, we really want to know what pest it is we’re dealing with, how you might find it in the crop, what sort of damage it might cause, and anything about its biology that might allow us to control it with alternative tactics. Similarly with our friends, it’s good to know which friends we’ve got out in the field so that we can make decisions to best look after them in helping us to control our pests. When it comes to prevention, we really need to think about farm hygiene. Clean farms simply
have lest pest problems than dirty ones and we can use hygiene to break pest lifecycles
and get us off to a good start for the season. Prevention can also be about strategy. Where
we’re going to locate a cotton crop on our farm (in terms of neighbouring fields or crop
rotations), or it can also be about choosing a planting date that might disadvantage pests
within our system. When it comes to observations, it really boils
down to having effective sampling for both pests and beneficials. We also need to make
good observations of the crop: what damage might we be seeing, or where is the crop at
in terms of its growth stage, and what is the crop telling us about those pests that
are in the field. The other important thing to be observant
of is your environment. What has the weather been doing over the last week that might have
affected the pests in your crop or how your crop is responding. Or likewise, if you’re
going to do a management decision, what does the weather look like in the week ahead. When it comes time to take action, we really need to consider our thresholds for pests to make sure that the number of pests in the crop justifies any action that we might plan. If we need to spray, we need to choose the product wisely, so that as well as controlling our pest, we’re doing our best to conserve those natural enemies in the field. Also when taking action, we need to be mindful of resistance management, so that our control of pests such as silverleaf whitefly or helicoverpa is viable today and well into the future. And finally, when it comes to take action, keep in mind that many pests don’t recognise farm boundaries. Working in with your neighbours for the control of pests such as silverleaf whitefly through product choice, planting time or defoliation date can be very effective at reducing pest numbers overall in your area.

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