Management Methods

The final component of IPM involves direct management of pest concerns. There are a multitude of options for pest management. They fall into 5 major categories:

  • Mechanical
  • Environmental
  • Cultural
  • Biological, and
  • Chemical

Typically, multiple methods should be employed in combination to maximize efficacy. Ideally, growers can use cultural practices and environmental conditions to prevent pest problems. If chemical pesticides are utilized, the least toxic yet effective chemical should be used.

Mechanical control includes techniques such as hand removal of weeds, mulch application, screens to prevent spread of flying insects, and sticky barriers to impede crawling insects.

Environmental controls manipulate things like temperature, light, and humidity to inhibit pest proliferation. Many foliar pathogens can be controlled through careful monitoring of humidity and temperature. Additionally, improved media drainage can frequently limit some pest problems.

Cultural controls involve alteration of normal plant growing regimens to limit pathogens. These alterations involve adjustments to fertilization and irrigation schedules or selection of resistant cultivars or crops. Changes in planting and harvest times or instituting crop rotation schemes are also considered cultural control methods.

Biological controls are natural enemies of plant pests. In some cases, biological control agents may be insect or nematode pathogens or predators. Plant pathogens can be controlled by boosting beneficial microbe populations on leaves or in soils. These methods are best combined with other control methods.

Chemical controls are a critical last line of defense against pests. The correct pesticide applied at the right time can be very effective. If applied in excessively low concentrations, pathogen resistance and plant damage may result. If applied in excessively high concentrations, phytotoxicity and environmental damage may result. Ensure that pesticides selected will not harm any biological control agents that may be in use. Careful attention must be given to all labeling instructions. Before a pesticide is utilized, understand its toxicity, mode of action and proper use.