What is IPM?
Integrated Pest Management (or IPM) represents a collection of environmentally responsible, but economically sound, practices for controlling pests. While most IPM strategies are aimed at crop protection, IPM is also used in other settings including libraries, schools, and households.
Through selective and timely use of pesticides, fertilizers, and irrigation, IPM techniques improve the effectiveness of these standard crop practices and keep the cost of growing crops more economical. Because IPM reduces the amount of pesticides used during crop production, potential harm to humans, other non-target species, and the environment is minimized.
Effective use of IPM requires careful monitoring of crop plants for signs of disease or damage, the presence and numbers of pests, weather conditions, and other variables throughout the growing season. IPM practitioners become, in effect, responsible stewards of their cropland and the environment.
IPM practices are currently being applied in apple orchards in N.H. and across the rest of the U.S. Again, the primary goal is to provide a level of pest control that is economically acceptable to the apple grower, while minimizing pesticide use. The successful implementation of IPM in the apple orchard requires the grower to be able to recognize the major apple diseases and pests, like apple scab and plum curculio, and to develop an understanding of the life cycles of these organisms. It is equally important to understand how weather conditions will affect the reproduction and spread of these pests in order to predict the extent of their impact. The more apple growers know about these harmful organisms, the better able they are to make effective management decisions.
The very nature of IPM provides a rich and meaningful foundation for a wide variety of classroom activities. In order to develop effective IPM practices, scientists and growers alike must engage in understanding a complexity of biotic (living) and abiotic (non-living) relationships. In addition to its use as a topic of scientific study, IPM provides an excellent basis for exploring environmental, social, and economic issues. We chose to focus on IPM and the apple growing industry due to its economic importance to our state and the wide-spread availability of apple orchards for potential class trips.
This work was supported by the IPM Grant Program of the NH State Department of Agriculture, Markets, and Food: Division of Pesticide Control and Keene State College's Undergraduate Research Grant Program.