Integrated Pest Management - IPM - Guidelines

Integrated Pest Management is an approach to pest management designed to manage pests and diseases with as little damage as possible to people, the environment and beneficial organisms.

Strategies that prevent pests and diseases are the cornerstone of IPM. The IPM grower uses all possible crop protection techniques including monitoring, crop sanitation, cultural and mechanical control, and the introduction of beneficial insects and mites. Corrective chemical control measures are used as a last resort. 
  • Supervised control
  • Cultural control
  • Crop sanitation
  • Mechanical control
  • Biological control
  • Chemical control
  • Monitoring
If you have any questions after reading this brochure, or if you would like advice about the implementation of IPM for your company, please feel free to contact us. Guidelines in this document are mainly directed to aspects within the growing conditions. Besides, there are other important guidelines that need attention when growing (food) crops. When handled properly, it will improve the grower's status as a supplier to his clients. Worthwile mentioning in this respect are the GLOBALGAP guidelines.
 

Supervised control

When a grower decides to change from conventional calendar spraying to integrated pest management, it is best to start with supervised control. This is a method to develop better decision making in crop protection.

The economic threshold
Supervised control means that the grower determines the right moment to take action in the life cycle of a pest or disease based on monitoring rather than on the calendar. Such a move should take place when the 'economic threshold' is reached, i.e. when the costs of the control measures are lower than the costs of expected crop damage if no action were taken. The level of damage at which the action is taken is called 'the economic threshold'. With the help of supervised control, considerable savings can be made on the cost of chemicals.

Knowledge and experience
During the period of supervised control, growers can familiarise themselves with:

  • Recognition of pests and diseases
  • Assessing the economic threshold
  • Monitoring and sampling techniques
  • Efficacy of pesticides
  • Influence of climate conditions
  • Seasonal factors 

Furthermore the grower can become acquainted with mechanical control, crop sanitation, and cultural practices

Cultural control

Cultural control is the use of horticulural practices that have an effect on crop protection.The aim of such measures is to increase the resistance of the plant to pests and diseases. This can be achieved by meeting the following conditions:

  1. Optimise plant growth.
  2. Increased resistance of the crop against pests and diseases can be achieved by taking good care of growing factors such as climate, fertilisation, irrigation, pH, EC, etc.
  3. Growers themselves can manage most of these factors.
  4. When one of the growing factors is sub-optimal, the plants express symptoms of plant stress. They become weaker and their resistance decreases, making the crop more vulnerable to pests and diseases. If, on the other hand, the crop is healthy, a reduced need for crop protection chemicals is often the result.
  5. Use resistant or tolerant varieties when and where appropriate.
  6. Grow susceptible varieties preferably in a period when the level of infestation is low. Moving up or delaying the growing period may result in reduced infestation pressure of certain pests.
  7. Avoid high planting densities.
  8. High plant densities result in thin, weak plants that are susceptible to pests and diseases.
  9. Use plant material from tissue culture as much as possible. This is the basis for disease-free propagation material.
  10. Use plant material from nurseries where IPM is practised as much as possible.
  11. Prevent plants from being under- or overloaded with fruits or flowers. Plants harvested at irregular intervals are weakened and are consequently more vulnerable to harmful organisms.
  12. Use crop rotation. If the crops with overlapping pests are rotated with crops with other pests, the level of infestation will remain relatively low.

Crop sanitation

Crop sanitation refers to procedures aimed at the prevention or eradication of sources and vectors of pests and diseases. This reduces the presence of harmful organisms, and lessens need for use of chemical insecticides. It also increases the chances for successful biological control.

  1. Begin with clean plants. Plant material must be free from pests and diseases.
  2. Remove old foliage promptly and carefully. Discarded plant material, waste heaps and other sources of infestation need to be removed quickly.
  3. Check the crop regularly for the presence of pests and diseases throughout the complete crop cycle. Infested material should be packed in a plastic bag and removed in order to prevent further infection.
  4. Remove weeds promptly. Weeds are often hosts for pests and diseases and may carry over an infestation from an old to a new culture.
  5. Avoid plant damage. Damage to plants provides means of entry for secondary infestations.
  6. Organise crop work so that workers move from the clean towards the infested areas of the crop. This can lessen the spreading of pests and diseases to clean areas of the crop.
  7. Prevent transmission of harmful organisms by people, machines or tools. Provide clean lab coats for guests (e.g. sales representatives) and restrict their access to the crops. Disinfect shoes, equipment, knives, scissors, etcetera. Skimmed milk can encapsulate viruses that are carried on tools.
  8. Prevent transmission of harmful organisms by water. Irrigation water from ditches or from a water reservoir may contain infectious spores. Disinfection can prevent this problem.
  9. Remove refuges for harmful organisms. Slugs and snails, for example, often hide close to plants. Educate your workers to be on the lookout.
  10. Begin with a clean growing area. The ground or the substrate for the crop should not contain any diseases or pests. Crop rotation and/or steaming are strongly advised.

Mechanical control

Mechanical control means controlling pests and diseases with the help of mechanical measures.

  1. Keep insects away from the plants. Many flying insects (aphids, butterflies, flies, capsids, thrips, etc.) can be kept away from the crop with the help of insect netting. By covering the soil or substrate with polythene, cloth or with special collars around the stem base it is possible to protect plants against larvae that eat roots or sub-soil stems. These measures also stop the development of larvae and pupae that need soil for completion of their life cycle, and keep them from further spreading.
  2. Trap insects. With the help of sticky traps, insect-o-cutors, trap plants, pheromone traps etc. it is possible to trap winged insects.
  3. Use temperature treatments to kill harmful organisms. There are different methods:
    Hot water
    Seeds, bulbs, tubers and cuttings can be immersed in hot water to kill potential pests such as insects, mites, nematodes, fungi and bacteria.
    Hot air
    A hot air treatment can also kill harmful organisms in plants, bulbs and seeds.
    Solarisation
    If the soil is covered with transparent polythene for several weeks in summer, temperatures can rise so high through solar radiation that pest organisms are killed.
    Steaming
    Treatments with steam will disinfect soil, substrate, crates, etc.
  4. Use flooding as a technique. If a piece of ground can be flooded for a sufficient period of time, most of the harmful organisms will die due to lack of oxygen.
  5. Remove infested plant materials. Place them in a bag, and destroy.

Biological control

Biological control is the control of pests and diseases with natural enemies. Within biological control three groups of beneficial organisms can be distinguished. The most common examples are given for each category below.

Predators

Predatory mites

Lacewings, beetles and gallmidges

Parasites

Parasitic wasps and parasitic flies

Micro-organisms

Nematodes

Fungi and Bacteria

It is vital to pay attention to the following points.

  1. Introduce beneficials at the right time. The earlier the beneficials are introduced the lower the numbers that are needed and the better the effect. Some beneficials can even be introduced preventatively.
  2. Pay attention to the quality of the material
  3. Obtain the material from a recognised supplier who guarantees its quality and quantity.
  4. Keep in mind the indicated storage temperature as well as the use-by-date. Begin with Integrated Pest Management in a period where the incidence of pest infestation is still low. That way, the use of pesticides can be limited and natural enemies will have a greater chance of establishment in the crop.
  5. Become acquainted with the biology of the beneficials.
  6. Encourage spontaneously occurring natural enemies to enter the crop by creating optimal conditions for them in which they thrive, e.g. humidity.
  7. Use attractive plants or banker plants when possible (Datura, Ricinus). They may also attract pest insects, but when managed well they can be good sources of predators and parasites.
  8. Make sure that harvesting, pruning or deleafing of the crop does not substantially reduce the population of beneficials.
  9. Ensure that other natural enemies are not harmed by the application of natural products e.g. plant extracts and minerals, which contain components with a controlling or protecting effect against pests and/or diseases. These may be less selective than is indicated.

Chemical control

Within the concept of IPM, chemical pesticides are mainly used as a corrective measure. Nevertheless, the following guidelines should be respected:

  1. Use selective pesticides. These are pesticides that are non-toxic or only slightly toxic to beneficials or do not inhibit their development or reproduction.
  2. Use selective application techniques. Some pesticides may be applied without actually damaging the beneficial population, even if they are not particularly safe for beneficials. This can be achieved by applying pesticides through the drip system, drenching, using seeds treated with a seed coating, and restricting applications to young plants.
  3. Use pesticides with a short persistence. Some chemicals are quite harmful at the moment of application, but the effect may not last more than a couple of days. Soon afterwards, beneficials can be introduced again, or natural enemies from the surroundings can enter in the treated area again and survive.
  4. Ensure that the plant propagator does not use pesticides with a long persistence. These products can stop or inhibit the development of beneficials.
  5. Avoid the use of pesticides with a long persistence prior to beginning biological control.
  6. Consult the Koppert Side-Effects Guide for detailed information about the compatibility of pesticides with most beneficials and the persistence of a possible harmful effect. This guide is available on the Internet 'Koppert's Side Effects Database On-line'.
  7. Avoid dusting any products, as dusting inhibits the development of beneficials.
  8. Be aware that pesticides or their vapour may drift from the area of application into an area with biological control. When this happens, the population of beneficials can be affected. During spot treatments, screen off the infested area if possible. Proper communication with neighbours in combination with the right action (open/close vents, avoid spraying under windy conditions) can mitigate these effects.

Monitoring

A good monitoring program is the key to successful IPM. A qualified scout should have the following capacities:

  1. Monitors the crop at regular intervals.
  2. Gives pest management advice based on observations and knowledge of pests and diseases, beneficials and other forms of integrated pest management.
  3. Knows how pests and diseases develop and behave under various environmental conditions.
  4. Knows how beneficials develop and behave under various environmental conditions.
  5. Checks the quality of beneficials
  6. Has knowledge of pesticides, their active ingredients, their side effects on beneficials, their efficacy under various conditions, the possibilities of mixing and alternating pesticides as well as the response of the crop.
  7. Has knowledge of cultural practices that mitigate pests and diseases; Is familiar with crop sanitation measures that eradicate sources of infestation and the spreading of pests and diseases; Is acquainted with mechanical control measures; Knows application techniques and equipment.
  8. Checks the effectiveness of the control measures.
  9. Scouts at several growers's sites, and thus continually builds up experience.
  10. Has regular contacts with research stations, institutes and producers of beneficials, pesticides and equipment.
  11. Is up-to-date on new developments and legislation in the field of crop protection

 

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