Understanding Pest Management
Following the definition of Organic Farming and IPM (Integrated Pest Management) are examples of how we practice IPM on our farm.
These descriptions below are taken from the website of the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
"Organically grown" food is food grown and processed using no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. Pesticides derived from natural sources (such as biological pesticides) may be used in producing organically grown food.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Principles
1. What is IPM?
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of common-sense practices. IPM programs use current, comprehensive information on the life cycles of pests and their interaction with the environment. This information, in combination with available pest control methods, is used to manage pest damage by the most economical means, and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment.
The IPM approach can be applied to both agricultural and non-agricultural settings, such as the home, garden, and workplace. IPM takes advantage of all appropriate pest management options including, but not limited to, the judicious use of pesticides. In contrast, organic food production applies many of the same concepts as IPM but limits the use of pesticides to those that are produced from natural sources, as opposed to synthetic chemicals.
2. How do IMP programs work:
IPM is not a single pest control method but, rather, a series of pest management evaluations, decisions and controls. In practicing IPM, growers who are aware of the potential for pest infestation follow a four-tiered approach. The four steps include:
*Set Action Thresholds - Before taking any pest control action, IPM first sets an action threshold, a point at which pest populations or environmental conditions indicate that pest control action must be taken. Sighting a single pest does not always mean control is needed. The level at which pests will either become an economic threat is critical to guide future pest control decisions.
*Monitor and Identify Pests - Not all insects, weeds, and other living organisms require control. Many organisms are innocuous, and some are even beneficial. IPM programs work to monitor for pests and identify them accurately, so that appropriate control decisions can be made in conjunction with action thresholds. This monitoring and identification removes the possibility that pesticides will be used when they are not really needed or that the wrong kind of pesticide will be used.
*Prevention - As a first line of pest control, IPM programs work to manage the crop, lawn, or indoor space to prevent pests from becoming a threat. In an agricultural crop, this may mean using cultural methods, such as rotating between different crops, selecting pest-resistant varieties, and planting pest-free rootstock. These control methods can be very effective and cost-efficient and present little to no risk to people or the environment.
*Control - Once monitoring, identification, and action thresholds indicate that pest control is required, and preventive methods are no longer effective or available, IPM programs then evaluate the proper control method both for effectiveness and risk. Effective, less risky pest controls are chosen first, including highly targeted chemicals, such s pheromones to disrupt pest mating, or mechanical control, such as trapping or weeding. If further monitoring, identifications and action thresholds indicate that less risky controls are not working, then additional pest control methods would be employed, such as targeted spraying of pesticides. Broadcast spraying of non-specific pesticides is a last resort.
3. Do most growers use IPM?
With these steps, IPM is best described as a continuum. Many, if not most, agricultural growers identify their pests before spraying. A smaller subset of growers use less risky pesticides such as pheromones. All of these growers are on the IPM continuum. the goal is to move growers further along the continuum to using all appropriate IPM techniques.
4. How do you know if the food you buy is grown using IPM?
In most cases, food grown using IPM practices is not identified in the marketplace like organic food. There is no national certification for growers using IPM, as the United States Department of Agriculture has developed for organic foods. Since IPM is a complex pest control process, not merely a series of practices, it is impossible to use one IPM definition for all foods and all areas of the country. Many individual commodity growers, for such crop as potatoes and strawberries, are working to define what IPM means for their crop and region, and IPM-labeled foods are available in limited areas. With definitions, growers could begin to market more of their products as IPM-Grown, giving consumers another choice in their food purchases.
We Practice IPM on our Farm.
Other Resources Techniques we use:
We follow Cornell University's Pest Management Guidelines for the Commercial Production of Tree Fruit ( http://ipmguidelines.org/treefruits). These guidelines help us with Action thresholds for insects and disease at all stages of growth, nutritional guidelines, identification of insects, and much more.
We refer to New York State's Integrated Pest Management Program website (http://www.nysipm.cornell.edu)
We also use several tools for monitoring insects and weather affecting fungus growth:
A Weather Station to analyze leaf wetness for scab infections, degree day analysis for insect life cycles, wind speed, solar radiation, and evapotranspiration.
Apple Maggot Fly Traps to monitor thresholds in the orchard, and even specific to sections of the orchard.
Moth Traps for Oriental Fruit Moth, Obleaque Banded Leafroller, Coddling Moth, & Leopard Moth
And finally, Prevention is one of the easiest ways to avoid having to even use other techniques. General maintenance of the orchard such as mowing the grass and keeping the ground clean of debris can prevent many infections or insect infestations. Also we choose varieties and rootstocks with disease resistance to help prevent infestations.