Digging into life's garden with Olivia:
Integrated Pest Management is an approach to controlling pests that is environmentally sensitive, yet effective. There is not one particular method for IPM, rather it is using current common-sense approaches that evaluate the natural life cycle and behavior of certain pests and then applying the most ecological, economical and least-hazardous solution.
The idea behind IPM is to find alternative methods other than traditional/routine application of harmful pesticides. Although some IPM methods may result in limited and controlled use of pesticides, those methods are not common or harsh as regularly spraying pesticides on crops. IPM methods turn to non-chemical practices and find
natural solutions that are equally as effective.
Integrated Pest Management takes more intentionality. IPM requires correct identification of the pest, continual monitoring, troubleshooting prevention methods to reduce the attractiveness to pests, evaluating when to take control actions, and documenting the results. IPM requires knowledge of specific pests so that pest control solutions can be tailored to the one specific pest problem without affecting other species that provide benefits to the garden.
IPM can also be used in more places than just the garden. According to the EPA, IPM is highly recommended in schools because it is a “smart, sensible, and sustainable approach to pest control.” There are numerous benefits to IPM such as health (human and environmental) and economic. IPM reduces allergens associated with pests, pesticides and asthma. Using IPM practices in schools where allergens and asthma are particularly high can be very beneficial. Economically, since IPM is focused on prevention it can be very cost-effective in the long term.
With IPM, you are finding the root of the pest problem which can help you have longer lasting prevention reducing the need to spend money continually on pesticides and other control efforts.
Although IPM may take extra attention in the process, it results in longer lasting pest control rather than covering up the pest problem with pesticides which may or may not have long term results.
This weekend, Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture hosted a CRAFT Workshop at Waxwing’s FIG Farm that was dedicated to talking about IPM. Two Agricultural Extension agents came out to the farm to talk about IPM and help the participants get hands-on experience with some of the local pests that were present at this particular farm. One big thing the agents talked about was the knowledge that comes with IPM. It is very important to take the time to learn about the signs of disease and pests, what they look like, and how to resolve the issue. They reiterated that it takes a good bit of time and research but can be very cost-efficient and long lasting.