Pest Management, IPM, is all about trying, as much as possible, to keep
chemicals out of the environment. It is
an attitude, taking care to use the least harmful solutions before resorting to
spraying a chemical control. Using
chemicals is, as Bart says in his article, below, “like swatting a fly with a
baseball bat; you may get the fly, but how much additional damage do you cause
to get that one fly?”
to create habitats for “good” insects so they will control the “bad” insects in
your garden; learn how compost and compost tea builds immunity as well as soil
tilth; and how to take care of your garden so that you cause the least
--- Anne K Moore August 15, 2009 ---
THE IPM STATE OF MIND
and Photos by Bart Hayes, Horticulture Specialist
Department of Horticulture and Crop Science, The Ohio State University
nothing more frustrating than investing your time and money in a landscape or
garden only to have it wrecked by pests and disease. You can confront and control many of these
problems by investing very modest time and money, before they even become a
problem. Although it can seem daunting,
there is a relatively easy and intuitive approach to managing plant health
issues: Integrated Pest Management.
Pest Management, or IPM, is less a technique and more a mindset. It revolves around paying close attention to
your garden, noticing an issue early, and then fixing it before it becomes a
is not simply about insects and their relatives, but diseases, fertility
problems, or any issue that keeps a crop from achieving its potential. I could spend many articles talking about
plant pest and disease identification, but it is probably best to refer to you
local and state extension service for bulletins and updates on what pests are
present in your area and when, and how to identify them. Once you have accurately assessed what plant
health issue you are facing, you look at how to manage those issues through
cultural, environmental, biological, or chemical means.
control is usually the least invasive way to affect your garden’s health. It involves things like removing the dead
plants and plant parts, rotating your crops, or selecting varieties that are
naturally disease and pest resistant. For
instance, those letters and numbers on the tomato label indicate pest and
disease resistance. Be sure to ask a
knowledgeable nursery worker for the top plants and combination of traits best for
you live in the desert, it can be difficult to grow plants that love high
humidity and moist soils. It can be done
by modifying the growing environment.
the environmental conditions of your garden is still relatively easy, but may
involve some heavy physical activity.
Deciding on irrigation timing and techniques, fertilizers, and soil
amendments are all ways that we modify the plant-growing environment. Watering your garden is usually necessary at
some point in the growing season, but changing the way you water can make a big
first thing in the morning so leaves and the area between the soil and the
first set of leaves have time to fully dry.
These two areas are where most disease problems occur, usually due to
too much moisture. Also, consider drip
irrigation; it saves water, keeps the leaves dry and you can put the exact
amount of water the plant needs on the soil where it needs it.
sure that your garden has sufficient fertility will help your plants stay
healthy. Healthy plants, just like
healthy people, are more resistant to disease and pests when they are
present. Soil tests are always
recommended before fertilizing or amending the soil. One piece of advice that is always good is to
add organic matter to the soil. Organic
matter supplies nutrition and fertility.
It increases soil porosity and water holding ability, making for loose
but moist soil.
organic matter is good, but the best is compost or a compost mixture for three
reasons: 1.The compost is a waste
product, using it saves landfill space.
2. It has a good mix of elements, nutrients, and components, just as
good soil does. 3. It provides a huge
boost to the biodiversity of organisms to the soil environment.
biological control can be a sticky subject.
It is easy to confuse it with concepts like organic and sustainable, but
the terms are not necessarily interchangeable.
The true meaning is to use one or a group of organisms against
another. I would consider using a cover
crop to suppress weeds, encourage beneficial insects by planting flowers in a
vegetable garden, or plant trap crops as forms of biological control.
best biological controls in the home landscape are compost or compost tea. The wide diversity of organisms in compost
provides for increased competition among all organisms, including the ones that
lead to plant diseases. With more
competition for space and resources, it is harder for disease-causing organisms
to get a good start, so they usually do not become a problem. Also, you get some nutrition and organic
matter without any more work; talk about multi-tasking!
can buy beneficial insects. They work,
but the effect is short term and you need to release them at a very specific
time. I say stick to cultural controls
like row covers or planting later to avoid when the pests are a problem.
in greenhouses for many years, I used a lot of chemical control agents to
reduce pests and diseases. A greenhouse
is an artificially controlled environment that has far fewer variables than a
garden, so it is easier to use a chemical control. But in a garden, there is so much going on at
any given time, it is hard to understand all of the effects of a chemical
understand that it is sometimes necessary to use chemicals to limit the damage
of a pest or try to save a crop, but it is always as a last resort. Spraying a chemical to control a particular
pest is like swatting a fly with a baseball bat; you may get the fly, but how
much additional damage do you cause to get that one fly?
is best to speak with your extension agent or qualified nursery employee for
some additional information and advice. If
you decide chemical management is the necessary action to take, use a product
that is safe to have near your home, family and pets, and your insect neighbors
in the garden. I like horticultural
soap, baking soda for mildew, Neem oil, and sprays containing Bt (a naturally
occurring bacterium that will kill caterpillars when ingested) to kill pests or
as repellants. Spray at dusk or early
evening to get the pests while they are still active, but not in full sun as it
can sometimes damage plants. Be careful
and wash your hands immediately after you make applications.
disease control in your landscape does not have to be difficult. Any homeowner or professional can apply these
IPM concepts equally to vegetables, flowers, turf, or anything else that is
growing. By good planning, closely
observing your plants, and diagnosing problems early you can have a rewarding
and bountiful garden and landscape for years to come.