INTEGRATED PEST management (IPM) is a safer approach to pest control.
It uses a mix of methods to reduce crop damage by pests, helpful creatures to the ecosystem and the environment, i.e., soil, water and air.
Pesticides are to be used as a last resort. Problems with pesticides include:
- More serious pest problems
- Danger to health
- Export market problems
- Less farm profits
- Polluted soil, water, air.
How does IPM work?
In IPM, the farmer uses a greater knowledge of nature, soil, water, climate, creatures and plants to make it easy for crops to flourish but hard for pests.
Harmful pesticides are to be used only when needed.
This brings better crops, less pest problems and man and the environment stay healthier.
Normal field work is used to make field conditions best for the crop and worst for pests.
- Plant at a place and time for early, strong crop growth and to avoid heavy pest attack.
- Prepare land early and properly, to destroy soil pests and allow proper root growth.
- Use pest-free planting material.
- Protect plants in the nursery (using screens) from insects which carry disease, e.g., viruses.
- Check plants at least weekly for any problems.
- Space, prune and stake plants to reduce overcrowding and disease build-up.
- Reap on time to escape pest damage
- Reap with care to reduce bruises and rots.
- Keep some weeds that beneficials feed on around fields.
In nature many creatures kill pests. Some of these natural enemies or beneficials are very small and hard to see; farmers often mistake others for pests. Improper pesticide use helps pests to proliferate by killing their natural enemies. It also helps pests become resistant to pesticides.
The three types of beneficials are parasitoids, predators and pathogens.
Sometimes, beneficials kill pests even better than pesticides, e.g., a ladybeetle and wasp used in the eastern Caribbean to control pink mealybug. Countries thereby save money and protect health and the environment.
Parasitoids (parasites) are usually smaller than the pest. They search for pests, eggs or young and lay eggs on or inside them. The young parasite feeds and grows inside the pest, killing it.
Predators are usually larger than the pest. Each predator catches and eats many pest eggs, young and adults. Examples: Ladybeetles, young lacewing flies, spiders, some mites, assassin bugs, ground beetles, common wasps, some bird bats.
Pathogens are germs, fungi, viruses and bacteria that make pests sick.
They are spread by wind, water, soil and on plant parts/pests.
Small farmers in other countries make spray from diseased insects and use it to kill pests.
Some plants resist pests naturally. Scientists also develop varieties that bear well, even when attacked.
Insects are drawn towards substances called pheromones. Pheromones are used in traps to catch pests, reduce breeding, prevent pest build-up and check fields for pest. Biological pesticides kill pests and protect beneficials. Fungus and virus germs are also used in this way.
Botanical insecticides are made from plants.
IPM rules for pesticide use:
1. First know what problem is affecting the crop.
2. If a pesticide is needed, use the safest one to man, beneficials and the environment that will work. For example, most bio-rationals and some of the new products on the market.
3. Read and follow the label.
4. Measure the right amount and mix properly.
5. Where possible, use poison baits instead of sprays.
6. If insects/mites/slugs are only in small sections of a field, treat only those sections.
7. If spraying, use the right sprayer and nozzle for the job.
8. Use a hollow cone for insecticides, fungicides.
9. Use a flood jet or fan jet for herbicides.
10. As far as possible, spray insecticides in the late evenings.
11. Never throw pesticides/containers in or near streams or rivers
12. Do not reap produce before the period written on the label, the pre-harvest interval.
13. Lock pesticides safely away from children and other unauthorised persons.
14. Avoid direct contact with pesticides.
Important benefits of IPM
- Healthier people
- Less crop damage
- Bigger better harvests
- More exports
- More farm profits
- Cleaner environment
Information submitted by the RADA Communications Department and prepared by the division of Technology Training and Technical Information RADA. For further information call 1-888-ASK-RADA or log on to www.rada.gov.jm.