What is IPM?

Introduction to IPM:

Integrated Pest Management (IPM), or Integrated Crop Protection (ICP), is an effective combination of chemical, cultural (such as farm management practices), and biological methods to keep weeds, insect pest numbers, disease pressure, and other crop production problems low enough to prevent significant economic loss. Mainly, it provides practical alternatives to conventional pest control that often relies on synthetic chemicals applied on a calendar basis.
Growers have reported that adopting ICP strategies has helped them to regain control over chemical-resistant pests; minimise worker and environmental impacts; minimise synthetic pesticide use and residues; satisfy consumers and the marketplace; reduce costs; and meet quality assurance requirements.

What is a pest?

Pests are organisms that cause damage or loss, or pose a risk to a crop. Pests are insect pests, mites, diseases, weeds, and some nematodes, invertebrates (snails and slugs) and animals such as mice and rats. It is important to remember that not all insects and mites are pests and to learn which ones are beneficial and assist in pest management.

Key IPM Principles:

  • Know the history and nature of the pests in the seedling nursery and on your farm
  • Be proactive – aim for prevention rather than eradication
  • Make sanitation on-farm your first priority after worker safety
  • Monitor your crops and growing environment often
  • Record crop and pest observations
  • Gain confidence in ICP through education, observation, and action
  • Access training in the ICP principles for yourself and your staff
  • Use available resources – consultants, researchers, books, fact sheets, and the internet
  • Understand why the ‘integrated’ approach is essential for success.

Management components of IPM:

  • Cultural, physical, or mechanical options

    These options allow the crop to avoid, resist, or delay interaction with the pest. They include good crop hygiene, site selection, fallow periods, crop-free periods on a regional level, planting date changes that consider insect pest flights, minimising old/new crop overlaps, resistant varieties (see below), crop rotation, roguing diseased plants, insect screens, removal of pest habitats, and restricted people movements.
  • Chemical options

    Chemical options involve the use of natural, biological, or narrow-spectrum chemicals to alter pest behaviour, attract insect pests for monitoring, reduce the presence or impact of pests, or change the attractiveness of the host crop. ‘Soft’ pesticides are those chemicals or biological agents that provide effective control of a pest with reduced impact on beneficial species.
  • Varietal options

    Resistant varieties limit the impact of pests and should be used whenever available and horticulturally suitable.
  • Biological options

    These options rely on natural enemies or introduced organisms that limit the impact of a pest, e.g. practices that boost or extend the habitats and populations of beneficials, parasitoids, antagonists, and predators, or which promote a crop’s acquired resistance. Beneficials include all predatory insects, mites, and spiders; parasitic wasps, nematodes, and flies; and fungi or bacteria that attack pests or outcompete them for potential infection sites.

IPM resources:

Click on any of the following categories to learn more about specific IPM measures used for vegetable crop groups and key vegetable pests.
  • Vegetable Categories:

    Brassica vegetables; Greenhouse vegetables; Leafy vegetables (includes lettuce); Bunching vegetables; Cucurbit vegetables; Solanaceous vegetables; Asian vegetables; Herbs; Other Vegetables; Root and tuber vegetables
  • Pests and diseases

    Thrips; Aphids; Whitefly; Flies; Mites; Slugs/snails; Leafhoppers; Caterpillars; Beetles; Bugs; Nematodes; Vertebrate pests Fungal diseases; Bacterial diseases; Viral diseases
To learn more about pest identification and IPM refer to the ‘Source of information and related tools’ at the bottom of each page. Additionally talk to horticulturists/entomologists/pathologists at your local Department of Primary Industries/Agriculture and commercial crop consultants to gain a greater understanding of IPM and key pests in your region. It is important to note that not all pests are a problem in all vegetable growing areas of Australia. Find out about any IPM workshops or field days being held. Commercial IPM training for growers and their agronomists is also available.

Source of information and related tools: