No doubt pesticides are the reason why some farms are pest – free. However, in addition to doing the good work of eradicating or controlling pests, some of these harmful pesticides can have negative effects on the environment.
Sometimes, pesticides end up causing harm on other organisms such as birds, fishes, and non – target plants. They can also contaminate the soil and water and end up causing more harm than good. This begs the question of an alternative method of controlling pests and weeds without harming the environment and that is where integrated pest management comes in.
To reduce and possibly avoid environmental damage, IPM adapts a balanced use of cultural, biological, and chemical procedures to control weeds in the way that the environment is also unharmed. It’s a win-win situation for the farmer and the environment. Some of the methods the system uses are:
1. Identifying and Monitoring:
All pests don’t operate the same way. Therefore, in order to make better pest control decisions, you need to first of all understand their routine. For instance, pesticides may not even be the most efficient way to get rid of a particular pest but one of the ways you can know this is by properly identifying and monitoring the pest.
Also, this process can help farmers determine if there is a relationship between pest infestation and the weather. For instance, if worms seem to appear during the rainy season, proper monitoring can help the farmer plan for the season.
There are some beneficial insects in agriculture and eliminating them could be at the detriment of the plants. Proper identification can reveal this to the farmer. Some of the ways to go about pest identification and monitoring includes regular farm inspections and insect traps.
The saying “prevention is better than cure” can also be applied to pest management. If the pests can be prevented from causing a primary attack, the control will be much easier.
For instance, if you want to counter root diseases, you can add beneficial fungi and bacteria to the roots of plants which are susceptible to these diseases. This prevents disease occurrence, thus reducing the use of fungicides, and also reduce harm on the environment.
Another environmentally friendly way to prevent pest attack is through crop rotation. Rotating between different crops and planting resistance varieties makes your crops less of a target to pest attacks.
Of course the first tip to avoiding pest and disease outbreak is to make sure the varieties you select for planting are healthy. However, these preventive measures also save you the cost of spending to treat pest outbreaks. These methods don’t just reduce environmental harm, they also reduce the cost of spending on fungicides and pesticides.
3. Biological Control:
Nematodes, weeds, and insects have natural enemies which you can use to your advantage.
Japan farmers are already incorporating this system. They are using ducks to control the weeds in their rice farms. These ducks have been specially trained to eat insects, weeds, and even the weed seeds but not the rice in the paddy fields.
4. Physical Control:
If you don’t want to follow the biological route, you can simply set a trap to block the pest out or make the environment inconvenient for them. Some physical control systems include building barriers to keep birds out, setting traps for rodents, and building mulches for weed control.
To accurately carry out physical pest management, proper identification and management has to be made. You need to understand what routes the pests take in order to know where a trap or barrier will be most effective.
5. Chemical Control:
Yes, chemical control can be a part of integrated pest management system but moderation is key. This means that you should use pesticides only when absolutely necessary. You should also apply them in a way that has the minimal effect possible on non target organisms, the environment, and the people.
However, you should know the compositions of the chemicals you’re using. Spot spraying is one way to control pests and diseases using the chemical method. Instead of spraying an entire area, you can spot spray affected area to increase efficiency and ensure proper chemical weed control.
What are your thoughts on Integrated Pest Management Systems? Do you think they’re more effective than pesticides? Share your thoughts in the comment sections below