Integrated pest management, or IPM, is a process used to solve pest problems while minimizing risks to people and the environment. IPM can be used to manage pests anywhere—in urban, agricultural, or wildland areas. IPM focuses on long-term prevention of pests and their damage through a variety of techniques such as biological control and habitat manipulation. Pesticides are used only as a last resort which are then handled with extreme sensitivity to only remove the target organism. (Univ. of CA Agriculture & Natural Resources)
How does IPM work? IPM focuses on long-term prevention of pests and preemptive solutions, such as growing a healthy crop that can withstand a pest attack. IPM uses environmental factors to create an unfavorable condition for the pest that affects its ability to thrive.
To control pests, IPM uses one or more of the following approaches:
- Biological Control: The use of natural enemies—predators, parasites, pathogens—to control pests and their damage.
- Cultural Controls: Reducing pest establishment and reproduction. For example, changing irrigation practices since excess water can cause root disease.
- Mechanical and Physical Controls: A direct extermination of the pest. For example, a trap for a rat (mechanical) or screens to keep birds out (physical).
- Chemical Control: The use of pesticides, always controlled and used with the consideration of human and environmental safety in mind. (Environmental Protection Agency)
IPM is supported by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations as the preferred approach to crop protection for its sustainability and effectiveness.
If IPM sounds like a solution to your pest needs, request a consultation at Horticultural Services, a local Houston business that specializes in integrated pest management.