Integrated pest management
Integrated pest management (IPM), also known as Integrated Pest Control (IPC) is a broad-based approach that integrates a range of practices for economic control of pests. IPM aims to suppress pest populations below the economic injury level (EIL). The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN defines IPM as "the careful consideration of all available pest control techniques and subsequent integration of appropriate measures that discourage the development of pest populations and keep pesticides and other interventions to levels that are economically justified and reduce or minimize risks to human health and the environment. IPM emphasizes the growth of a healthy crop with the least possible disruption to agro-ecosystems and encourages natural pest control mechanisms." Entomologists and ecologists have urged the adoption of IPM pest control for many years. IPM allows for a safer means of controlling pests.[clarification needed] This includes managing insects, plant pathogens and weeds.
Globalization of markets and increased movements of people all over the world are allowing for increasing numbers of invasive species to be brought into countries. Appropriate responses to these pests are needed and development and implementation strategies should be arranged. It is essential that the option that poses the least risks while maximizing benefits is needed and that the strategy may include all components related to integrated pest management strategies.
For their leadership in developing and spreading IPM worldwide, Perry Adkisson and Ray F. Smith received the 1997 World Food Prize.
Shortly after World War II, when synthetic insecticides became widely available, entomologists in California developed the concept of "supervised insect control". Around the same time, some entomologists in the Cotton Belt region of the United States were advocating a similar approach. Under this scheme, insect control was "supervised" by qualified entomologists, and insecticide applications were based on conclusions reached from periodic monitoring of pest and natural-enemy populations. This was viewed as an alternative to calendar-based insecticide programs. Supervised control was based on a sound knowledge of the ecology and analysis of projected trends in pest and natural-enemy populations.
Supervised control formed much of the conceptual basis for the "integrated control" that University of California entomologists articulated in the 1950s. Integrated control sought to identify the best mix of chemical and biological controls for a given insect pest. Chemical insecticides were to be used in manner least disruptive to biological control. The term "integrated" was thus synonymous with "compatible." Chemical controls were to be applied only after regular monitoring indicated that a pest population had reached a level (the economic threshold) that required treatment to prevent the population from reaching a level (the economic injury level) at which economic losses would exceed the cost of the artificial control measures.
IPM extended the concept of integrated control to all classes of pests and was expanded to include tactics other than just chemical and biological controls. Artificial controls such as pesticides were to be applied as in integrated control, but these now had to be compatible with control tactics for all classes of pests. Other tactics, such as host-plant resistance and cultural manipulations, became part of the IPM arsenal. IPM added the multidisciplinary element, involving entomologists, plant pathologists, nematologists, and weed scientists.
In the United States, IPM was formulated into national policy in February 1972 when President Richard Nixon directed federal agencies to take steps to advance the concept and application of IPM in all relevant sectors. In 1979, President Jimmy Carter established an interagency IPM Coordinating Committee to ensure development and implementation of IPM practices.
An American IPM system is designed around six basic components:
- Acceptable pest levels: The emphasis is on control, not eradication. IPM holds that wiping out an entire pest population is often impossible, and the attempt can be expensive and environmentally unsafe. IPM programmes first work to establish acceptable pest levels, called action thresholds, and apply controls if those thresholds are crossed. These thresholds are pest and site specific, meaning that it may be acceptable at one site to have a weed such as white clover, but at another site it may not be acceptable. By allowing a pest population to survive at a reasonable threshold, selection pressure is reduced. This lowers the chance of pests developing resistance to chemicals, because if many of the pests are killed then any that have resistance to the chemical will form the genetic basis of the future population. By not killing all the pests there should be unresistant pests left that will dilute the prevalence of any resistant genes that appear. Similarly, the repeated use of a single class of chemicals will create pest populations that are more resistant to that particular class, whereas alternating between different classes helps prevent this.
- Preventive cultural practices: Selecting varieties best for local growing conditions, and maintaining healthy crops, is the first line of defense, together with plant quarantine and 'cultural techniques' such as crop sanitation (e.g. removal of diseased plants, and cleaning pruning shears to prevent spread of infections). Beneficial fungi and bacteria are added to the potting media of horticultural crops vulnerable to root diseases, greatly reducing the need for fungicides.
- Monitoring: Regular observation is the cornerstone of IPM. Observation is broken into two steps, first; inspection and second; identification. Visual inspection, insect and spore traps, and other measurement methods and monitoring tools are used to monitor pest levels. Accurate pest identification is critical to a successful IPM program. Record-keeping is essential, as is a thorough knowledge of the behavior and reproductive cycles of target pests. Since insects are cold-blooded, their physical development is dependent on the temperature of their environment. Many insects have had their development cycles modeled in terms of degree days. Monitor the degree days of an environment to determine when is the optimal time for a specific insect's outbreak. Plant pathogens also follow similar patterns of response to weather and seasonal changes.
- Mechanical controls: Should a pest reach an unacceptable level, mechanical methods are the first options to consider. They include simple hand-picking, erecting insect barriers, using traps, vacuuming, and tillage to disrupt breeding.
- Biological controls: Natural biological processes and materials can provide control, with minimal environmental impact, and often at lower cost. The main focus here is to promote beneficial insects that eat or parasitize target pests. Biological insecticides, derived from naturally occurring microorganisms (e.g.: Bt, entomopathogenic fungi and entomopathogenic nematodes), also fit in this category.
- Responsible Pesticide Use: Synthetic pesticides are used as required and often only at specific times in a pests life cycle. Many of the newer pesticide groups are derived from plants or naturally occurring substances (e.g.: nicotine, pyrethrum and insect juvenile hormone analogues), but the toxophore or active component may be altered to provide increased biological activity or stability. Further 'biology-based' or 'ecological' techniques are under evaluation. Applications of pesticides must reach their intended targets. Matching the application technique to the crop, the pest, and the pesticide is critical. The use of low-volume spray equipment reduces overall pesticide use and labor cost.
An IPM regime can be quite simple or sophisticated. Historically, the main focus of IPM programmes was on agricultural insect pests. Although originally developed for agricultural pest management, IPM programmes are now developed to encompass diseases, weeds, and other pests that interfere with the management objectives of sites such as residential and commercial structures, lawn and turf areas, and home and community gardens.
IPM is the intelligent selection and use of pest control actions that will ensure favourable economic, ecological and sociological consequences and is applicable to most agricultural, public health and amenity pest management situations. Reliance on knowledge, experience, observation, and integration of multiple techniques makes IPM a perfect fit for organic farming (sans artificial pesticide application). For large-scale, chemical-based farms (conventional), IPM can reduce human and environmental exposure to hazardous chemicals, and potentially lower overall costs of pesticide application material and labor.
Risk assessment is usually characterized by four issues: 1) characterization and identification of biological control agents, 2) health risks, 3) environmental risks, and 4) efficacy. 
1. Proper identification of pest - What is it? Cases of mistaken identity may result in ineffective actions. If plant damage is due to over-watering, it could be mistaken for fungal infection, since many fungal and viral infections arise under moist conditions. This could lead to spray costs, but the plant would be no better off.
2. Learn pest and host life cycle and biology : What does it need? At the time you see a pest, it may be too late to do much about it except maybe spray with a pesticide. Often, there is another stage of the life cycle that is susceptible to preventative actions. For example, weeds reproducing from last year's seed can be prevented with mulches and pre-emergent herbicide. 3. Monitor or sample environment for pest population - How many are here? Where do we look? Preventative actions must be taken at the correct time if they are to be effective. For this reason, once the pest is correctly identified, monitoring must begin before it becomes a problem. For example, in school cafeterias where roaches may be expected to appear, sticky traps are set out before school starts. Traps are checked at regular intervals so populations can be monitored and controlled before they get out of hand. Some factors to consider and monitor include: Is the pest present/absent? What is the distribution - all over or only in certain spots? Is the pest population increasing, decreasing or remaining constant? This is done through crop scouting. Monitoring should include the soil/planting media fertility and water quality. Overall plant health and resistance to pests is greatly influenced by the water's pH, alkalinity,the make up of dissolved minerals,and Oxygen Reduction Potential. Many diseases are water borne and spread directly by irrigation water and indirectly by splashing.
4. Establish action threshold (economic, health or aesthetic) - How many are too many? In some cases, there is a standardized number of pests that can be tolerated. Soybeans are quite tolerant of defoliation, so if there are a few caterpillars in the field and their population is not increasing dramatically, there is not necessarily any action necessary. Conversely, there is a point at which action must be taken to control cost. For the farmer, that point is the one at which the cost of damage by the pest is more than the cost of control. This is an economic threshold. Tolerance of pests varies also by whether or not they are a health hazard (low tolerance) or merely a cosmetic damage (high tolerance in a non-commercial situation).
Different sites may also have varying requirements based on specific areas. White clover may be perfectly acceptable on the sides of a tee box on a golf course, but unacceptable in the fairway where it could cause confusion in the field of play.
5. Use resources to keep up to date on IPM developments. Researchers are always discovering new techniques, and ways to improve old techniques. Keeping up to date gives you the best options available to when using IPM.
6. Choose an appropriate combination of management tactics. For any pest situation, there will be several options to consider. Options include, mechanical or physical control, cultural controls, biological controls and chemical controls. Mechanical or physical controls include picking pests off plants, or using netting or other material to exclude pests such as birds from grapes or rodents from structures. Cultural controls include: keeping an area free of conducive conditions by removing or storing waste properly, removing diseased plants properly, late water floods, sanding, and the use of disease-resistant varieties. Biological controls are numerous. They include: conservation of natural predators or augmentation of natural predators, Sterile insect technique (SIT).
Augmentation, inoculative release and inundative release are different methods of biological control and all affect the target pest in different ways. Augmentative control includes the periodic introduction of naturally occurring predators in sufficient numbers to keep pest damage below economoic damaging levels. They can be either an inundative or inoculative release.  Inundative release is where beneficials are collected, mass-reared and periodically released in large numbers into the pest area. . This is used for an immediate reduction in host populations and is generally used in annual crops but is not suitable in the long run.  Inoculative release is where only a limited number of the beneficial (helpful) organisms are introduced into a pest area at the start of the season. This is to give long term control as the parasitoid progeny will continue to affect the host populations throughout the season, such as in orchards.   Seasonal inoculative release requires the beneficials to be collected, mass-reared and released seasonally into annual crops as to maintain the beneficial population. This is commonly used in greenhouses.  In America and other western countries, inundative releases are the predominant program while Asia and the USSR countries have put emphasis on inoculation and occasional introductions. 
The SIT is an Area-Wide IPM that introduces sterile male pests into the pest population to act as birth control. The biological controls mentioned above should only be used in extreme cases, because in the introduction of new species, or supplementation of naturally occurring species can have detrimental effect to the ecosystem. Biological controls can be used to stop invasive species or pests, or they can be they route by which new pests are introduced.
Chemical controls would include horticultural oils or the application of pesticides, such as: insecticides and herbicides. A Green Pest Management IPM program would use pesticides derived from plants, such as botanicals, or other naturally occurring materials. Pesticide classes are divided by their modes of action. Alternating between modes of action minimizes pest resistance. When using any type of chemical control make sure that your pesticide applicator has the appropriate safety equipment. Their certification should be up to date, and that your equipment is well maintained and calibrated to ensure proper application.
7. Evaluate results - How did it work? Evaluation is often one of the most important steps. This is the process to review an IPM program and the results it generated. Asking the following questions is useful: Did actions have the desired effect? Was the pest prevented or managed to farmer satisfaction? Was the method itself satisfactory? Were there any unintended side effects? What can be done in the future for this pest situation? Understanding the effectiveness of the IPM program allows the site manager to make modifications to the IPM plan prior to pests reaching the action threshold and requiring action again.
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- OSU IPM Program - Ohio State University IPM Program
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- SAFECROP Centre for research and development of crop protection with low environment and consumer health impact