What Is Integrated Pest Management?

July 14th, 2011 by
Integrated pest management – sometimes called IPM or integrated gardening – is not nearly as complicated as it sounds. Simply put, it is an environmentally friendly approach to pest management that uses minimal amounts of chemical pesticides. It is an integral part of organic gardening and an effective, safe, and cheap alternative to mainstream pest control. Just in case that sounds boring and dreary, check out this shot of one of my favorite organic gardens. Isn't it beautiful?

Integrated pest management isn’t just one thing. It is a three-stage approach to gardening: prevention, observation, and intervention. Whether you are opposed to using chemical pesticides or not, any garden can benefit from following these steps, because they really bring you and your garden closer together and more in tune with each other. Integrated gardening is easily applied to potager gardening, or making an ornamental vegetable or kitchen garden, as you can see here.

Since the goal of IPM is to use minimal amounts of chemical pesticides, it stresses the importance of pest prevention. One of the common preventative measures employed in integrated pest management is choosing plants that are less susceptible to the pests commonly found in your area. Other preventative measures involve keeping your plants healthy so that they can fight pests with their own natural measures and quarantining afflicted plants so that they do not spread disease. When monitoring, be on the lookout potential problems so that you can stop pests before too much damage has been done. This means taking a close look at your plants every day and looking out for details that might indicate the presence of a pest. Once pests have been spotted, IPM stresses proper identification. Properly identifying pests helps you to plan a solution that minimizes the stress on the environment and harm to beneficial plants and insects. This is an example of something to look out for when you monitor your garden:

With IPM, solutions – or “interventions” – differ from situation to situation. Interventions can involve anything from manually picking insects from your garden to building insect barriers. Other more intricate actions can involve supporting the growth of helpful insects that will eat the pests blighting your garden. By incorporating IPM into your gardening habits, you can avoid the harmful residue associated with chemical pesticides. You can target harmful pests without negatively affecting innocent bystanders while saving some cash and protecting the environment in the process.