Guide on Getting Integrated Pest Management Certification

Integrated pest management certification is a pest control program based on prevention, monitoring, and control which offers the opportunity to eliminate or drastically reduce the use of pesticides, and to minimize the toxicity of and exposure to any products which are used. IPM does this by utilizing a variety of pest control methods and techniques, including cultural, biological and structural strategies to control a multitude of pest problems.

Pesticides are used only after the monitoring of pest situation indicates that they are needed; then, the goal of the action becomes removing only the target organism. Pest control methods and materials are selected and applied in a manner that minimizes associated risks to human health, non-target organisms, and the environment.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization defines IPM as “the careful consideration of all available pest control techniques and subsequent integration of appropriate measures that discourage the development of pest populations and keep pesticides and other interventions to levels that are economically justified and reduce or minimize risks to human health and the environment”. IPM emphasizes the use of natural pest control mechanisms  and encourages the growth of a healthy crop with the least possible disruption to agro-ecosystems .

IPM does not translate into organic practices; it does not discourage the use of agrochemicals; it promotes the application of selective pesticides only when the crop needs it, which generally means that pesticide is used only when the need arises. Though IPM has been around for many years; it has only been adopted to varying degrees within cropping industries. The Implementation of effective IPM programs involves careful management of the interactions between the ecosystem that comprises the crop, environment, primary and secondary pests.

Pests and Their Control Methods

What Do We Mean By Pest, Cultural Control, Biological Control And Chemical Control?

Pests are organisms that damage or interfere with the desired growth and development of sown plants in the fields or orchards. Pests are known to transmit disease that reduces the quality and quantity of the plant’s yield. A pest can appear in various forms such as a plant (weed), vertebrate (bird, rodent, or other mammal), invertebrate (insects or snail), nematode, pathogen (bacteria, virus, or fungus) that causes deviation from the normal growth pattern of plants, or other unwanted organism that may cause harm to water quality, animal life, or other parts of the ecosystem.

Cultural pest control technique is the non-chemical management of pests using manual or mechanical means to modify the soil and crop environment to discourage pest establishment.

Biological pest control is where the pest’s natural enemy such as predatory or parasitic insects and mites known as ‘beneficial’ or ‘good bugs’ help to control the population of chewing and sucking insects by killing them or disrupting their breeding cycle.

Chemical pest control control involves the use of chemical compounds (pesticides) to reduce the population or eliminate the presence of pests.  Chemical pest control method is used in IPM when biological and cultural control have not been enough to protect the productivity of the crop. Where chemical control is required, selective pesticides are chosen which target the primary pest, leaving the beneficial population unharmed.

Certification Of Integrated Pest Management

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) certifications help pest management purchasers to understand and verify that the services they are buying are in line with the long-term pest prevention methodology of IPM. The Integrated Pest Management process involves identification of pests, pest monitoring, source reduction, treatment thresholds, multiple integrated tactics considering the non-chemical options first and further evaluation for continuous improvement. IPM certifications were designed to serve as an assurance to vigilant pest management purchasers that seek to reduce the risk of pesticides to people in buildings and the environment at large.

Sources of IPM Certifications

There are three sources of IPM certifications that are recognized by the agro industry and academia as comprehensive and competent at reducing the risk posed by pesticides and ineffective pest management programs. These programs are Ecowise Certified, Green Shield Certified, and GreenPro.

How IPM Works

Integrated Pest Management focuses on long-term prevention of pests or mitigation of pest damage by managing the ecosystem sustainably. With IPM, you carry out measures to keep pests from becoming a problem, by planting disease-resistant planting material, regular pest assessment exercise, and maintaining a healthy environment for plant growth .

Steps In Integrated Pest Management

 The following are IPM principles and practices are combined to create IPM programs for certifications. While each situation is different, seven major components are common to all IPM programs:

Step 1: Regular Inspection

One of the important components of IPM program is a schedule of regular inspections of the farm vicinity. Regular inspections as emphasized in IPM certification programs are the first step of pest control and management. Routine inspections should focus on areas where pests are usually attracted to such as the backs of leaves, growing tips, etc. this action helps to determine the severity of pest population.

Step 2: Preventive Action

The result from the regular inspection of pest activities determines whether or not a preventive measure must be staged to distort or eliminate further pest action before they cause a real problem. One of the most effective pest prevention measures is exclusion, i.e., performing structural maintenance to close potential entry points revealed during the inspection. By physically keeping pests under control, you can reduce the need for chemical countermeasures. Likewise, sanitation will eliminate potential sources of entry points, thereby reducing pest pressure.

Step 3: Identification of Primary Pests

Identification of the real pest makes control measures effective and cheap if I may say. It must be noted that individual pests have different behaviors. By identifying the problematic pest species, physically or by action, such pests can be eliminated more efficiently and with the least risk of harm to the ecosystem. Professional pest management vehemently emphasizes the need to start with the correct identification of the pest in question through rigorous training in pest identification and behavior.

Step 4: Analysis of Pest Damage

After proper identification of the pest, you need to figure out the severity of damage done by the pest; this will reveal the most appropriate control measure. Some pests defoliate plant leaves, some bore holes into the vascular system, some suck out the sap juice, thereby reducing the plant vigour. All these are nature of pest damage and they require different control strategies.

Step 5: Treatment of pest damage

It must be noted that IPM does not recommend a certain pest control method. IPM is the implementation of various eco-friendly pest control methods. After successful identification of the pest and analysis of its nature of damage, several non-chemical pest control methods are staged in line of defense. However, when other control methods have failed or are inappropriate for the pest situation, chemical pest control method may be used in least volatile formulations in targeted areas to treat the specific pest. The use of non-chemical options first, ensures that the pest management program is effectively eliminating pests at the least risk to cultivation, non-target organisms and the environment.

Step 6: Monitoring of pests

Since pest management is an ongoing process, constantly monitoring of the farm for pest activity can protect against further infestation and help eliminate existing ones. The monitoring schedule can be weekly or monthly depending on the pest reaction to the control measure. Further sanitation greatly helps to keep the environment unfavorable for pest emergence; this is a non-chemical method and one of the cultural ways of pest control.

Step 7: Documentation of pest activities

Proper documentation of pest action and control measure used help in effective control of pests as it shows the type of pest and the most effective control measure used. Every aspect of the IPM must be documents; starting from the first step of IPM to the last step. The records are meant for performance tracking of IPM strategies on pest emergence, pest activities, level of response of each control measure. Documentation of pest action helps to control pests at reduced cost because it eliminates the need for trials; documents shows performance for easy reference in future.  

 IPM has a broad meaning aside from just eliminating the pests around the farm. it entails complete surveillance at environmental factors that affect the pest and its ability to thrive. Hence, you can create conditions around your farm that are unfavorable for the pest to thrive. The most effective, long-term way to manage pests is by using a combination of pest control methods that work better together than separately. Pest control strategies are, therefore, grouped into Cultural control, chemical control, and biological control, which is defined above.

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