How can farmers use integrated pest management techniques on their farms?

As the first line of pest control, integrated pest management programs work to manage the crop, grass or indoor space to prevent pests from becoming a threat. In an agricultural crop, this may involve the use of cultivation methods, such as rotating between different crops, selecting pest-resistant varieties and planting pest-free rootstocks. Integrated pest management practices only allow the radio fumigation of non-specific pesticides as a last resort (and not in the production of organic food). Pesticides are used only after monitoring indicates that they are needed according to established guidelines, and treatments are performed with the goal of eliminating only the target organism.

The UC Agriculture and Natural Resources division manages an online catalog that provides links to hundreds of free and purchasable publications related to pest control topics. UC IPM's online pest management guidelines help identify potential pests, including agricultural pests, pests from the natural environment, exotic and invasive pests, and weed species. The IPM employs a four-level approach: establishing action thresholds, monitoring and identifying pests, preventing pests from becoming a threat, and controlling pests as needed. Integrated pest management practices and reductions in the use of pesticides reduce exposure to pesticides for agricultural workers 16, 20, consumers19 and wildlife and ecosystems8.The strategy focuses on implementing a combination of management techniques selected to minimize the extent of environmental degradation and reduce the impact of chemical inputs on humans and non-target organisms.

Integrated pest management is relevant in all areas where pests may exist, including agriculture, forests, parks, wildlife refuges and military bases, as well as residential and public areas, such as schools and public housing. As long as you employ the five principles of integrated pest management listed above, you're on your way to achieving a safe, pest-free farm. One of the easiest ways to adopt integrated pest management techniques is to determine if promoting beneficial insects can help prevent or control pests in crops. For example, crop rotation disrupts the life cycle of many pests, making it an exceptionally natural deterrent to agricultural pests.

By investigating the environmental factors that affect a pest, the management strategy can be adapted to create unfavorable conditions and reduce the chance of future outbreaks. With integrated pest management, steps are taken to prevent pests from becoming a problem, such as growing a healthy crop that can withstand pest attacks, using disease-resistant plants, or sealing cracks to prevent insects or rodents from entering a building. Monitoring means reviewing your field, landscape, forest, building, or other site to identify what pests are present, how many are there, or what damage they have caused. Rather than simply eliminating the pests you see right now, using IPM means that you will analyze the environmental factors that affect the pest and its ability to thrive.

In response to the emergence of stricter state regulations on pesticides and the growing demand for organic production practices, the 1990s emphasized alternative pest control strategies to reduce the use of pesticides.

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