Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an economical, environmentally sensitive and effective way of dealing with pests in our gardens, whether they are bugs, blights or other bad news.
According to Penn State University, the very first farmers didn’t “control” pests, but instead allowed their presence by planting enough for them to eat too. (That gives new meaning to the term “share cropping!)
Around 2500 B.C., things like sulfur, tobacco, soap, arsenic or copper sulfate compounds, and all kinds of voodoo-like materials were used to combat pests, generally by killing them. That went on up until modern times though there were a few folks who recognized alternatives. An example:
“The agriculture journals have presented various recipes, as preventive of the attacks, or destructive to the life, of the “curculio,” the “apple-moth,” the “squash-bug,” etc. These decoctions and washes are as useless in application as they are ridiculous in composition, and if the work of destroying insects is to be accomplished satisfactorily, we feel it will have to be the result of no chemical preparations, but of simple means, directed by a knowledge of the history and habits of the depredators.” In other words, there were alternatives to chemicals. (The Practical Entomologist (October 30 1856)
Then came Rachel Carson whose Silent Spring brought the issue of pesticide safety to the attention of the public. She pointed to the adverse effects of things like DDT on wildlife, water quality, and human health. And, in the early 1950’s, that led to the beginning of serious research concerning integrating various approaches of managing pest control to find the least toxic, most effective options. We now know this as Integrated Pest Management or IPM.
As a home gardener I see our IPM consisting of:
-A garden planned following the “right plant, right place” concept, whether it be ornamental or vegetable—considering sun, shade, soil pH, moisture, etc.
– Regular inspection tours to identify changes, problems-in-the-making in our gardens.
– Resources that are available to help us identify the culprit and our most appropriate alternative.
-Chosen pesticides applied according to the label…
-maintained records so that next year we have a “heads-up!” to help guide our plant choices and our surveys. When should we watch for what?
Debbie Green will soon be posting a list of useful on-line references. From time to time during the growing season our BLOG will be issuing IPM ALERTS—what to look for and what to do if you see it. Stay tuned!
Article written by Glenn Palmer, Extension Master Gardener Volunteer.