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What is Integrated Pest Management (IPM)?

Posted by Tad Kuntz on

The Masonic Village orchard has been a proud steward of the land for 100 years. We practice Integrated Pest Management (IPM) on our farm in order to preserve sustainable agriculture for our generation and generations to come.

There are currently over 400 insects, 200 fungi, bacteria, molds, rots, rodents, and mammals that either damage fruits and vegetables or the plants they grow on.

In order to grow healthful, affordable, eye-appealing produce we combine biological, cultural and conservation practices with modern technology to control these pests. We strive to reduce chemical pesticide usage in order to produce safe, environmentally friendly food products.

What is IPM?

IPM is a series of pest management evaluations, decisions and controls. IPM programs use current, comprehensive information on the life cycles of pests and their interaction with the environment. This information, in combination with available pest control methods, is used to manage pest damage by the most economical means, and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment.

IPM pest control begins with cultural controls. These procedures include soil preparation techniques, planting schedules, crop rotations, use of resistant varieties, and crop sanitation to disrupt the pest environment and to aid in overall pest control.

Another important step in the IPM process involves identifying pests. Not all insects, weeds, and other living organisms require control. Many organisms are innocuous, and some are beneficial and even help control pests. IPM programs work to identify pests accurately, so that appropriate control decisions can be made in conjunction with action thresholds. Successful monitoring and identification ensure that pesticides are used only when really needed and that the wrong kind of pesticide is never used.

The next step is monitoring. We use insect trapping, computer models and field scouting to help predict the point when pest populations will reach the action threshold level and when control measures are needed. An action threshold is the point at which pest populations or environmental conditions indicate that a pest control action must be taken. Thresholds are based on considerable amounts of research and field experience. Sighting a single pest does not always mean control is needed. Understanding the level at which a pest becomes an economic threat is critical to making pest control decisions.

Once a pest begins to cause economic damage to a crop, we integrate suitable pest management tactics including biological controls (beneficial parasites that feed naturally on the pest), pheromones (naturally occurring mating disruption), natural pesticides (natural elements including copper and sulfur), and trapping. After all biological controls are exhausted, a synthetic pesticide may be considered.

When a pesticide is deemed necessary it is applied under the direction of the orchard manager who is a Pennsylvania licensed private applicator. We use rates at or below those recommended by the Pennsylvania State University's College of Agricultural Sciences. Every pesticide undergoes millions of dollars in testing by universities, the EPA and FDA to ensure that it will not have unreasonable adverse effects on humans, the environment and non-target species. All pesticides have a "days-to-harvest" interval determined by the EPA. This tells us how many days before harvest we must discontinue the use of a pesticide to ensure that residues will be biodegraded.

Benefits of IPM

IPM offers the best way available to obtain the benefits that can be derived from pesticide use while minimizing the negative side effects. By using pesticides in their most effective and selective manner, IPM strives to safeguard people and natural resources.

By reducing the amount of pesticides that could penetrate the food chain, water, air, and soil, people enjoy a greater degree of safety. By utilizing the IPM program, we have been able to reduce miticide use by 80%, insecticide use by 60% and fungicide use by 40% since 1970.

Reduced pesticide usage slows insect resistance, does not disturb ecological harmony and tends to maintain the effectiveness of those pesticides that are used for a longer time.

In our situation, IPM has fostered a return to a more natural balance. Improved long-term control of pests has resulted, and greater yields have been achieved.

We believe you as a consumer have the right to healthful, abundant food that is produced and handled safely. We also believe food should be produced with a deep respect for the environment to ensure our future as well as our children's future.


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