Integrated pest management, or IPM, relies on biological, cultural, and chemical methods to manage pests in agriculture and in your community. It is neither conventional pest management, nor organic management. Instead, it draws on the best of both, and uses many other tools and resources available.
Biological control focuses on using living organisms to suppress the population of a pest organism in an effort to reduce damage below a threshold. Such control organisms may be other insects which include predatory insects or parasitoids. Other biological control agents might be bacteria, fungi, or nematodes.
These control efforts include physical barriers like mosquito nets or row covers as well as traditional practices such as crop rotation or intercropping. Field sanitation, the removal of diseased plants or pest refuge, is also considered under cultural control.
Chemical control includes using pesticides judiciously to manage pest, but also manage for pesticide resistance. Considering the mode of action, or how the pesticide kills the pest, is an important aspect of chemical control.
IPM is an ecological approach to pest prevention, observation, and intervention. It is a tool that can be tailored to grower needs and resources for practical pest management while reflecting biological, social, and economic understandings of the system.
There was some buzz a while back about the funding and future of the New York State IPM program. Thanks to public support, the state budget has allocated monies to continue supporting the agricultural and community programs. The power of people is incredible.