"Integrated Pest Management, or IPM (which is less of a mouth full), is an ecosystem based strategy for control in your business that focuses on long-term prevention of pests. Whether a crop be greenhouse vegetables, nursery ornamentals, field potatoes, etc., the concept remains the same.
"By using a combination of techniques such as: biological control, habitat manipulation, modification of cultural practices and use of resistant varieties, we are now able to keep our pest levels under threshold and avoid overuse of chemicals.
"Rather than correcting a problem once it arises, we are simply using all the tools in our toolbox to prevent a problem from occurring – prevention versus correction.
"So then, what makes a pest? That is a question that comes with many answers. Ultimately, it depends on who you are and what your grow. Pests are any organisms that damage or interfere with our product. A pest can be:
- Plants (weed)
- Vertebrates (bird, rodent, deer, or other mammals…employees can count as pests too!)
- Invertebrates (insect, tick, mite, slug or snail)
- Pathogens (bacteria, virus, or fungus)
- Anything else that causes or spreads a disease
"With an IPM program, pesticides are used only after monitoring indicates they are needed according to established guidelines. Scheduled treatments are then made with the goal of removing only the targeted problematic organisms. The most critical part of any IPM program is regular scouting. Scout, scout, scout!
"I once heard a saying that really stuck with me, “The best thing you can do for your crops is to put them under your shadow”. Meaning get out there and look at them. Pests and diseases can arise very quickly, so to keep the preventative management strategy functioning you need to be one step ahead of your pests.
"At Van Belle one of our many IPM tools that we use to keep pests below threshold is a banker plant system. Banker plants are a self-contained sustainable system that acts as a habitat and alternative food source for beneficial insects. These beneficials live, eat and reproduce in the banker plants. In most cases, once beneficial insects have done their job (i.e. eaten all of your pest insects) they will leave your crops in search for food elsewhere.
"This gets costly and time consuming having to purchase and release beneficials weekly. Banker plants allow your beneficials a place to return to when pest populations are low. They eat, rest and reproduce here until the pest populations rise again, signaling them to march back into your crops and the process starts all over again.
"As someone who has many years of experience working in Crop Protection, I know first hand that this system works. With some knowledge, elbow grease and some patience, there is no reason why any producer can not implement a successful Integrated Pest Management program for their business. The results of successful IPM implementation are well worth it in the end."
For more information:
Van Belle Nursery
34825 Hallert Road
Abbotsford, BC V3G 1R3
Toll Free: 1-888-826-2355