Below certain levels, pests do not cause enough damage to warrant the cost of control. It is important, however, to know what levels of pests are acceptable and what levels should trigger immediate control method application. Thresholds are frequently defined by members of the academic community. Researchers derive threshold values through studies that determine the amount of damage caused by different pest levels. Unfortunately, threshold development in nursery crops has lagged. However, over time, growers can develop specific threshold guidelines for operations.
The use of thresholds allows for decreased use of pesticides over the traditional scheduled spray method (where pesticides are applied on a schedule regardless of pest presence). Thresholds help reduce development of resistance, reduce reentry intervals related production disruption, improve plant growth in cases where pesticides are slightly phytotoxic, and reduce pesticide expenditures (chemical cost and labor cost).
Thresholds are established at the level where the increased revenue derived from pest control is sufficient to offset the cost of the control method to be applied. These factors are most dependent upon the specific crop and its intended use. Many factors should be considered when determining how much damage can be tolerated: