Integrated pest management (IPM) is a strategy that encourages the reduction of pesticide use. It does this by employing a variety of pest control options in harmonious combination to contain or manage pests below their economic injury levels. These options include:
- biological control
- cultural control
- varietal selection
- chemical control
The aim of IPM is to maximise the use of biological control. Other control measures, especially chemicals, must play a supportive rather than disruptive role. Chemicals should not be used on a ‘calendar’ basis but strictly when needed, as defined by systematic pest monitoring. Selective rather than broadspectrum chemicals should take preference.The aim is to produce high-quality marketable produce at minimal cost by intelligently using the various control options to manage pests.
Advantages of IPM
The advantages of IPM are:
- slower development of resistance to pesticides
- reduced health risk to spray operators
- reduced chemical contamination of food and the environment
- reduced dependence on chemicals; hence IPM is a step towards sustainable agriculture
- better plant health giving improved quality and production
Disadvantage of IPM
The disadvantage of IPM is that it is more complex than control by chemicals alone. It requires a greater understanding of the interactions between pests, beneficials, and the environment as well as the effects of chemicals.