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What is Integrated Pest Management (IPM)?

Last modified: 4/16/2012 3:16 PM

IPM is a philosophy of pest control, which has been defined in various ways by diverse groups. There are many sources of information on IPM approaches and how to use IPM in variety of scenarios from home, garden, urban turf & landscapes, right of ways to agriculture. The Database of IPM Resources provides a collection of IPM definitions and their citation in the worldwide literature.

A few examples are as follows:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (1993) provides the following definition: "IPM programs use current comprePicture of Insects and plantshensive information on life cycles of pests and their interactions with the environment. This information, in combination with available pest control methods, is used to manage pest damage by the most economical means, with the least possible hazard to people, property and the environment. IPM programs take advantage of all pest management options possibly including, but not limited to, the judicious use of pesticides."

As defined in the National IPM Roadmap, "Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, is a long-standing, science-based, decision-making process that identifies and reduces risks from pests and pest management related strategies. It coordinates the use of pest biology, environmental information, and available technology to prevent unacceptable levels of pest damage by the most economical means, while posing the least possible risk to people, property, resources, and the environment. IPM provides an effective strategy for managing pests in all arenas from developed residential and public areas to wild lands. IPM serves as an umbrella to provide an effective, all encompassing, low-risk approach to protect resources and people from pests

Integrated Pest Management: Right tool, at the right time, in the right way

IPM is a continuous process of controlling pests (weeds, diseases, insects or others) in which pests are identified, action thresholds are considered, and all possible control options are evaluated and considered. Precautionary principles or proactive approach or prevention is a key part of Integrated Pest Management. Rather than having to take stronger action (such as opting for chemical intervention) later to handle a pest problem, the IPM tools work to prevent pest (weed, insect and fungi etc.) problems from developing or worsening. The choice of which control to use is based on effectiveness, environmental impact, site characteristics, worker/public health and safety, and economics.

As pesticide use in urban settings became ubiquitous and public concern escalated, urban IPM has evolved into developing alternative strategies and methods to implement manage pests in the least hazardous way. While not fully developed to the point where one community from another can borrow entire programs "off-the-shelf", various segments of urban IPM systems have demonstrated their cost-effectiveness and reliability in reducing pesticide use. This has prompted numerous communities to expend considerable effort to develop and implement an IPM program for use in managing their public lands and structures. The Urban Integrated Pest Management (Structural & Non Production Agriculture) assists a wide range of professionals such as arborists, municipal and urban foresters, turf managers, nursery growers, landscape managers and maintenance personnel, right-of-way vegetation managers, aquatic pest managers, Interiorscape managers and structural pest control operators.

Developing Urban IPM program (Structural & Non Production Agriculture) for multi-jurisdictional public agency (for example: State, County or Municipality) is a complex management & technical process. Establishing IPM Policies and Programs: A Guide for Public Agencies by University of California Publication #8093 highlights discussion on various elements of this complex process. An example of public agency's multi-jurisdictional IPM program is Santa Clara County's IPM Program.

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