• What effects does soil quality have on plant attractiveness and
susceptibility to insect pests and damage? (For example, are "dead soils"
creating a pest problem through lack of balanced plant nutrition?) What are
options for better soil management (cover crops, green manures, adding
compost, reduce tillage, etc)
• What cultural or habitat options can be implemented before the crop is
planted? (See ATTRA's Farmscaping to Enhance Biological Control)
• What are crop rotation options and their effect on pest management
(insects, weeds and plant pathogens)?
• What are cover crop options and their effect on pest management?
(Proactive pest management options) • Cultivars should be resistant to
• Cultivars should have appropriate mode of resistance.
• Cultivars should be appropriate for the area.
• Cultivars should be commercially available.
• Cultivars must have a market (a concern with some genetically modified
IPM Technical Information
• Develop sources for biointensive IPM information and information about
cropping systems ecology, farmscaping, and ecological soil management.
• Check with state or county Extension for the latest IPM program for a
particular crop/pest complex.
• IPM program should establish an Economic Injury Level (EIL) for major
pests, including (ideally) weeds.
• How do major pest EILs change with time and how does this influence
• Will scouting be done in-house, by independent pest control advisors
(PCA) , or by chemical salesmen? Compare estimated cost per acre,
expertise, potential conflict of interest, etc.
• What is the purpose of monitoring: To determine number of pests
present? To determine stage of development? To determine type of
damage being done? To determine injury levels? To time treatments?
• Which pests & beneficials will be sampled? What are the key pests and
their natural enemies?
• What sampling method will be used?
• What other factors should be monitored? Consider conditions that may
increase or decrease severity of pest problems, such as soil moisture, soil
nutrient status, temperature, humidity, stage of crop development.
• Keep field maps, and record the history of fields, the problems that recur
every year and where, the most problematic fields or sections of fields.
• Develop a record-keeping system that is user-friendly and "field-friendly."
Evaluate available software options.
• Develop a method of displaying monitoring information that will facilitate
decision-making. Evaluate available hardware and software options.
Pest identification: who can help?
• Help can be obtained from PCA's, county/state Cooperative Extension,
nurseries, universities and Web sites.
Pest monitoring equipment
• Determine types of equipment needed: pheromone traps, sweep nets,
hand lens, D-VAC™, etc. A PCA will have much of this information.
• Determine sources of equipment.
Reactive pest management options
• Pest management options and "fallback" positions (what if first option
fails?) should be planned in advance.
• What are least-toxic alternatives to "hard" chemicals that can inhibit
pests? What are commercial sources for these alternatives?
• If "hard" pesticides are necessary, what are the best times for treatment
in order to decrease pest populations while conserving beneficials?
• What weed-free period does the crop require?
• What are the costs/benefits of tillage vs. herbicide use for weed control?
IPM program evaluation
• All components of the IPM system—soil management, habitat
management, pest/beneficial monitoring, decision-making (including EIL's),
and treatments—should be evaluated for overall efficacy. Are the most
recently-developed EIL's and action thresholds being used?
• The IPM system should be modified and continually fine-tuned after
• What specialized equipment is needed—mowers, cultivators, no-till drills,
flamers, beneficial organism application equipment, etc.? Is it more
economical to own, rent, or contract?
• Availability of pesticide spray equipment? Keep in mind that timing of
applications is often critical for good pest control. Is equipment grower-
owned or contracted?
• Will IPM increase or decrease equipment use and maintenance?