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Improve Pest Management by Planning Ahead

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a stepwise approach to managing pests that combines accurate knowledge of the pest and level of potential harm with multiple tactics to prevent, reduce or eliminate the effect of pests (disease, insects, weeds or even abiotic issues) on your crops. It is not an alternative to organic or conventional production but is a strategy that can be used by any grower, whether using organic or conventional materials.

Over decades of working with growers directly to implement Integrated Pest Management (IPM) on their farms, we have developed an IPM planning template to help you focus and be successful with your pest management strategies. Following are instructions for completing your IPM Plan (click on the link for a blank template):

  1. Crop & Pest columns: Choose no more than 5 pest and crop combinations you would most like to work on this season. We have found that focusing on no more than 5 pest issues each season on your most valuable or newest crops leads to more successful pest management because it allows the grower to learn the pest life cycle, and become more confident at using control strategies that work.  Each season, new issues may come up and over time, you will become an IPM expert! 
  2. Past Control Strategies column: Write down what strategies you have tried before.
    1. What worked? What didn’t work? Take a moment to think about your crop quality or yields this season related to the pest in question.  Did you reduce pesticide use or other inputs such as labor on this crop this season? Did you make more money on this crop?  Perhaps some of your strategies worked, but not others.  Write down what didn’t work for you to manage this pest in the past.  “I don’t know” may be what you write down, especially if you are working with a crop or new invasive pest you don’t have much experience with.   
  3. Future IPM Strategies column: Think broadly at first about the IPM tools and strategies you will use in your plan. Be picky, only write down the strategies you will use in this column.
    1. Accurate identification: determine the true underlying cause of the pest problem through soil or plant tissue testing, disease diagnostics, insect and weed identification, or other methods. Often we find that in the first year of working with a grower on their IPM plan, pest identification is the most important task.
    2. Pest scouting: Determine pest levels, damage, life stage, and keep records over time. We recommend weekly scouting for most crops (more frequently sometimes as the crop nears thresholds for some pests). Check out our scouting resources page to find pest scouting sheets we developed for different crops.
    3. Monitoring & Forecasting: Use data loggers, pheromone traps, online networks, pest models and pest or weather forecasts to monitor or predict pest arrival/emergence and potential for damage.
    4. Cultural practices: e.g. crop rotation, mulches, irrigation, resistant varieties, row covers
    5. Biological control: Attract and/or release beneficials, predators or parasitoids to control pests.
    6. Chemical control: Choose the right materials, time to spray, improving coverage, and managing for resistance.
  4. This Year’s Plan column: (write year here for example ‘2019’) Get more specific with the strategies you just wrote down in the previous column. Use our Scouting Toolkit Inventory to find out what you will need for the season and where to get it.  Write down the tools and supplies needed, people involved, resources to use, etc. Write down the steps necessary to implement your plan and who will do them.
  5. Calendar Alert column: When does each task need to done or planned? Jot down dates or set calendar reminders to make sure you get traps set up on time, know when to begin scouting for a pest, etc. Review past ‘Pest Alerts’ in Vegetable Notes to get an idea when pests first appeared in your area or rely on past experience to plan.
  6. Notes column: Consider outside influences which may not be directly related to your plan, but which may impact your success, for example: equipment or labor shortages, unpredictable weather, underlying field conditions (e.g., rocky, low fertility, prior crops and surrounding environment), etc. Write down any of these outside influences that may have a specific effect on your plan. 

Here is a sample IPM plan from a grower we have worked with in the past to guide you. In this example, we select one pest to tackle using the IPM principles of accurate pest identification, monitoring, and implementing an effective chemical control at the right time:

Crop

Pest

Past Control Strategies

Future IPM Strategies

This Year’s Plan: _2018_

Calendar Alert

Notes

Summer Squash, Zucchini,

and

various winter squash: Delicata, Butternut Acorn Spaghetti

Squash Vine Borer (SVB)

We identify the larvae in stalks, but it’s too late to treat once they are infesting the crop. We lost about 30% of yield to fruit infestation in the fall.  We didn’t know there could be 2 generations of SVB per year!

 

What didn’t work? Treatment was too late since Entrust must be consumed by the larvae before they enter the stalk and row cover is not practical on a large scale. We need to know when adults arrive, how to identify eggs and when to treat so that we can target larvae before they enter the plant.

Accurate Identification: Adult and eggs.

 

Monitoring: Use pheromone trap to determine arrival of adults. Trap is to be placed in the top of the crop canopy about 3ft. above the ground.

 

Chemical Control: Use Entrust targeting based of plant at a threshold of 5 adults/trap in non-vining crops and 12/trap in vining crops.

Get Pest ID guide from UMass Extension.

Manager order trap and pheromones from Great Lakes IPM.

 

Manager will set up the trap with field crew and assign a scout.

First place the trap in the field where the winter squash was last year, then when the first adults are captured, move the trap to the summer squash field.  

 

Scout will check traps weekly and scout for eggs then report to Manager.

Farmer will treat at threshold.

December 3rd: Order trapping supplies and ID Guide.

 

May 15th: Set up trap.

 

Early June (likely): Scout for eggs near the base of the plant.

 

Weekly, May 15th – harvest: Check trap and scout field.

 

Spray if threshold is reached.

Summer Squash is being grown in the field adjacent to last year’s winter squash which had a high infestation, so heavy pressure is expected. The winter squash was not tilled under to destroy pupae because this is a No-till field, so higher populations are also expected.

 

Author: 
Katie Campbell-Nelson and Susan Scheufele
Last Updated: 
Nov 15, 2019