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All You Need to Know About Integrated Pest Management

All You Need to Know About Integrated Pest Management

As a grower, you try your best to take care of your plants. You put in efforts to build the perfect environment for your plants using the best fertilizers, maintaining the ideal nutrient balance, investing your time to achieve a good harvest.

But, all these efforts may go to waste if your growing space is invaded by plant pests and pathogens. It is a situation that is no less than a nightmare for the growers. The attack of pests can hinder the plants' growth, reduce the end product's quality, and cause serious damage to the plants. The disastrous impact of pest infestation does not stop here because pest infestation makes it difficult for plants to reach their genetic potential. Did you know that almost 40% of the world's entire agricultural growth, including pre-and post-harvest, is destroyed due to common pests and diseases?

On the one hand, pests such as aphids, caterpillars, and cutworms can destroy crops. On the other, some thrips, ants, beetles, and praying mantis can aid the growth of plants by preying on other pests. It is due to this reason that growers need to acquire the skills to manage and control pests effectively.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is one of the most effective ways to do that when it comes to controlling and preventing pests. You can prevent pest infestation and even protect the freshness and quality of your garden. One fascinating fact about IPM is that you do not necessarily have to include working with chemicals to control the pests. It helps improve the quality of the environment and keeps the consumers safe from the chemicals.

Despite its effectiveness and efficiency, many growers still do not incorporate this technique into their plant growth management. The complexity of developing and deploying effective IPM is not as simple as spraying plants using a insecticides or pesticides. The benefits of using Integrated Pest Management for your growing care needs are undeniable. We have created a comprehensive guide to help you get started with your IPM strategy. We will help you understand what it is and assist you in developing your own strategy. Let's dive right into it!

Understanding Integrated Pest Management

The goal of a grower is to produce the best possible crops. Let's get into the details now! Alongside the best harvest, commercial growers need to build their brand image by keeping up with the standards for consumers. Integrated Pest Management, which is also popularly known as IPM in the industry, is a technique that helps growers achieve both these goals. It is only a possibility if the designed strategy is well-thought.

Starting with the basics, IPM is a comprehensive and holistic plan that helps prevent and control pest infestation. The concept of IPM revolves around creating an ecosystem that aids a grower's efforts to control pests. While there are various techniques that help better manage pests in a garden, almost all these rely on chemicals. This is what sets IPM apart from all other pest management techniques.

IPM is a way you can minimize the negative impacts of your gardening efforts on the environment while providing your consumers with products that are free from these harmful chemicals. While helping you control and prevent pest infestation, IPM helps you reduce your carbon footprint, leading you to eco-friendly growing.

Developing the Right IPM Strategy

Another reason behind growers not choosing this methodology to prevent and control pests is a lack of understanding. Many growers know what IPM is but are unaware of how this methodology works and how they can develop one that serves their purpose. IPM strategies vary with every garden due to their diverse needs and requirements.

Integrated Pest Management strategies

To understand how this methodology works, you need to know that there are five different ways to approach this matter. These include cultural, physical, genetic, biological, and chemical controls. Each of these methods serves its purpose in diverse settings. To help you make up your mind, we will be covering each of these methods in depth.

Optimizing the Culture

The culture or the environment of the grow room is critical for plant growth. This is a fact, and none of the growers can overlook it. The first type of IPM strategy revolves around establishing the perfect grow room with the necessary accessories.

You may need different environmental equipment, such as dehumidifiers, air conditioners, oscillating fans, and sometimes air purifiers.

Further, you need to have an efficient ventilation system. To further aid your efforts to establish that perfect grow room environment, you may want to go through our guide on cheap and effective grow room controllers.

While this may seem an effective strategy, controlling these factors is much more difficult when growing outdoors than growing indoors. From humidity to lighting, indoor growing allows growers to control all these factors. When it comes to outdoor growing, you can only control the irrigation and airflow. When outdoors, there will be a need for training your plants to minimize the leaf-to-leaf contact between plants.

Controlling the Physical Factors

The next strategy when designing an IPM technique is to control the physical factors. You need to control the physical factors when you cannot control cultural factors, which is very common for outdoor gardens. It revolves around using tools such as insect traps and Diatomaceous Earth.

Growers say that controlling physical factors is much easier than controlling cultural elements. You can add the insecticides and pesticides to get rid of pest infestation as well as protect your plants by controlling the physical factors.

Managing Genetic Factors

The next in line is a strategy that is based on genetic factors. This is where you will get into the depths of plant breeding. Here, you will choose the healthiest plant of a particular variety.

You need to select the plants considering-

  • Quality of growth
  • Resistance to harmful pests
  • Health

If you think plant breeding is a complex process, you can even introduce a specific species of pests that can help you control the pest infestation.

Take Biology into Consideration

The fourth strategy is to base your IPM plan on biological factors. Similar to the genetic-controlled IPM strategy, even this methodology involves using beneficial bugs. How often have you heard the phrase ''fighting fire with fire?'' Well, it is time to implement it. The beneficial bugs are those that do not consume plants as food, instead, prey on pests that are harming the plants.

To incorporate this methodology into your IPM plan, make sure you thoroughly research the matter. A wrong decision might work against you and may expose your garden to a much more serious threat. Suppose you are skeptical about choosing beneficial bugs. In that case, you can opt for beneficial bacteria or fungi instead, as they are also equally effective means of getting rid of pests and harmful insects.

Controlling the Chemical Factors

The decision to use chemicals is not one that should be taken lightly, but it can help improve your yields and profitability. Yes, we know that deploying an IPM strategy would minimize chemical usage, but this is like the last refuge. This is a case when the infestations get out of control, and you are left with no other option than to use chemicals.

There are limitations in using pesticides and other chemicals for pest control as part of IPM. Note that chemicals that are OMRI-listed or are biorational can be used under an IPM strategy. These pesticides do not directly kill the bugs; instead, they leverage their scent preferences and eating habits. They are categorized under pheromones, anti-feeding agents, and repellents.

The Benefits of Integrated Pest Management

Now that you know what IPM is, it is time to discover its benefits. When there is a way simpler method to do that, why get into such complexity and put in efforts to create a strategy? Most growers ask the same question when they get a suggestion of developing a deploying IPM into their systems. First things first, implementing this strategy means you are cutting the risks of a pest infestation. The chances of an outbreak dramatically drop when a smart IPM strategy is integrated into the process. Secondly, when you implement IPM, you are choosing a chemical-free method to steer clear of pests. Not only is the end product of high quality but also free of chemicals –something that consumers have been demanding for a long time.

Note that IPM does not entirely eliminate the usage of sprays. It does reduce it to a minimum, a somewhat ideal situation for the growers, and not to forget that minimum use of chemical sprays makes you an eco-friendly grower. An aspect that many people overlook is profit. When the method is an effective IPM strategy, growers get a chance to increase their profits in the long- run. How do you maximize the profit? With this technique, you get a chance to save a lot. When you produce a high-quality end product, you can set its price accordingly. Even this practice helps in boosting profits.

Executing an Integrated Pest Management Strategy

The most important phase of an IPM strategy is its implementation. To execute this strategy, you will have to start with continuous monitoring of the growing space. While monitoring, you need to identify the possible locations which can serve as entry points for pests and insects. Other factors that you need to record in your grow room checklist include signs of fungus close to the water sources. Make sure you have surface-level knowledge about common garden pests and diseases before you can start monitoring.

The Ending Notes

To summarize it all, executing an IPM strategy will help you better control pests and prevent the invasion of harmful ones. Along with this, a smart and well-thought IPM strategy will help you cut down your costs and even minimize the usage of chemicals, given that you have taken prompt action. We at GroIndoor.com can guide you through your IPM journey. Further, we can help you design and deploy that perfect Integrated Pest Management strategy! Hence, contact us at 866-GRO-INDR.

Sep 1st 2022

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