Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an important topic to us. In fact we have been practicing it since the 1980's when Gardeners' Guild began a shift in its approach away from the use of synthetic and chemical products. In fact, the photo opposite this paragraph is of none other than Kevin Davis performing an IPM operation some time in the 1980's!
During that time we worked closely with a local entomologist who helped us develop our IPM program. We learned that we could substitute beneficial insects and organic fertilizer in place of synthetics and chemicals.
The next phase was educating our clients that toxic treatments were not only damaging to the plants and the environment, but also were only a short-term fix, not a long term solution.
Fast forward to 2012. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is more widely used and has become more sophisticated. At Gardeners' Guild we are continuously educating ourselves to the new products and practices, which focus on healthy soil - a big factor in keeping plants pest and disease free.
We like to revisit this topic at least once a year because of its role as a part of a total ecosystem approach to sustainable landscape management.
All the best,
|A Successful IPM Program|
What is IPM?
It is an environmentally sensitive approach to the control of pests and disease that minimizes the use of pesticides and instead relies on several strategies. Its success depends on frequent monitoring of plants and their environment so that problems are detected as early as possible.
A pest can be an invasive plant, animal or insect. It can also be any of the above which lives where it is not wanted and harms other plants or inhibits the protection of unique habitats or area resources.
When and How to Monitor
Monitoring involves collecting detailed information in a systematic way. It involves frequent close visual inspections and keeping accurate records of soil types, a history of pest problems and weather conditions. Using a magnifying lens is also helpful.
A Checklist of What to Look for
- Type of symptoms
- How long has the plant(s) had symptoms
- Number and size of plants with symptoms
- The degree of infestation (low to severe)
- Plant location
- Determine species of pest or disease if possible
- Note if there are any beneficial insects
- Note other factors such as: timing of recent fertilization, irrigation, wind or weather damage, nutrient deficiencies that can kill or stunt the growth of plants.
An Integrated Solution
The goal with an IPM program is prevention not complete eradication.
There are four general methods to manage insect, disease and weed problems: cultural, biological, mechanical and chemical control. Chemical solutions are only used as a last resort and if used, only the least toxic methods are applied.
Example: A Biological Method
This method utilizes the pests' natural enemies. A strategy could be creating a welcoming environment for or releasing the natural enemy. In the case of an Aphid infestation, Ladybugs are a natural enemy and one of the best fighters of Aphids.