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All About Integrated Pest Management

Last Updated Jan 30, 2012 · Written by Jaclyn Fitzgerald

Pests are a fact of life in any garden but it doesn’t mean that they are wanted!  On the contrary, most people want their gardens to be free of pests so that they look their best and can be enjoyed at any time of day.  One excellent way of doing this is via integrated pest management.  If you’re not sure what this is, here’s a guide to get you started. For more information, speak with your local pest control professional.

What is Integrated Pest Management?

Integrated pest management (commonly known as IPM), is the practice of combining pest management strategies in order to control pests while having as minimal an impact on the environment as possible.  The goal of integrated pest management is to actually reduce the need to use chemical products as much as possible.  Integrated pest management strategies can be implemented in all horticultural and agricultural areas, from small home gardens through to large farms.

Integrated Pest Management Techniques

No one technique is used in integrated pest management. Rather, a number of techniques are used and combined in order to control undesirable pests in the garden.  The four main techniques used are physical control, biological control, genetic modification, and chemical control.

Physical control is all about changing the environment to make it less attractive to pests such as rotating crops or erecting physical barriers. Examples of physical barriers include natural fly traps, natural slug repellents and so forth.

Biological control is all about using the natural enemies of the problem pests in your garden to bring those problem pests under control.  These natural enemies can be predators, parasites, or disease.  As an example, attracting birds to your garden can reduce the numbers of many pests as the birds feast on these.

Genetic modification means altering plants at the genetic level to make them more naturally pest resistant.  This is usually done on a commercial scale.  Domestically, genetic modification is more about choosing plants that are suited for the area, as plants that grow well tend to be happier and healthier, making them more able to fight off pests.

Finally, chemical control is about the judicious use of chemicals and pesticides. These are generally only used when absolutely necessary and at a time where they’ll have maximum effect on the pest, so that minimal amounts are used.
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