Ministry of Agriculture
Pesticides & Integrated Pest Management
- What is Integrated Pest Management (IPM)?
- Elements of IPM
- Reduced Risk Pesticides
- Additional Resources
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a decision-making process that supports a balanced approach to managing crop and livestock production systems. The goal is effective, economical and environmentally-sound suppression of pests. For the purposes of this document, pests includes insects and mites, plant diseases, weeds, nematodes, and problem wildlife.
The concept of IPM evolved in response to problems caused by an over-reliance on chemical pesticides. Some of these problems are development of pesticide resistance, elimination of natural enemies of pests, outbreaks of formerly suppressed pests, hazards to non-target species, and environmental contamination.
The objective of IPM is not to eradicate a pest but to reduce its abundance to levels that no longer pose an economic threat to plants and animals. IPM is not an organic or non-pesticide approach to pest control. Organic producers also use IPM and certain approved pesticides to protect their crops and livestock. One of the main goals of IPM is to promote the use of effective, less toxic pesticides only if and when necessary.
- Pest Prevention - Planning and managing agricultural production systems to prevent insects, plant diseases and weeds from becoming pests. Many pest prevention practices are cultural control practices (see below). By preventing pest problems, there is no need for pesticides.
- Accurate identification of pests, their natural enemies and damage. Identification is essential to select the best pest management practice or pesticide for the pest/crop combination. It is illegal to use a registered pesticide on a crop or against a pest not listed on the pesticide label. Knowing what natural enemies are present and active in the crop will aid in selecting a pesticide that poses the least risk to them.
- Timely monitoring of pests and beneficial organisms, pest damage, and environmental conditions. Monitoring pest populations gives information needed to decide if and when to apply a pesticide for optimal effectiveness. Knowing what and when beneficial organisms are present is useful to time pesticide application to minimize impact on the beneficial organisms. Pest and disease development models use environmental (weather) information to determine what life stage(s) of a pest is present or if plants are at risk of disease infection. This information is useful in timing pest monitoring and management activities.
- Making control decisions based on pest or damage monitoring data, potential damage, cost of control methods, value of production, impact of other pests, beneficial organisms and the environment. Decide if the cost of the pesticide application is justified in terms of the value of the commodity protected. When making decisions consider the Economic Injury Level (EIL) and of Economic Threshold Level (ETL) where available. The EIL is the pest population level when the loss caused by the pest is equal to the cost of control measures. The ETL is the pest population or damage level when control measures are applied to keep the pest population from reaching the EIL. Both the ETL and EIL values can change from year to year depending on the crop value and control costs. For some pests the ET is zero because of quarantine regulations imposed by governments or markets.
- Using a combination of control methods - Use a combination of behavioural,
biological, chemical, cultural and mechanical methods to reduce pest
populations to acceptable levels.
- Behavioural control applies to insects. It takes advantage of insect responses to colors (e.g. yellow traps), odours (e.g. attractant-baited traps, sex pheromone dispensers for mating disruption), and light (e.g. black light traps, insect electrocutors).
- Biological control uses natural enemies to control pests. Examples of natural enemies (also called biocontrol or biological control agents) include predators (lady bugs and lacewings that feed on aphids), parasitic wasps and flies that attack caterpillars, nematodes that attack insects, insects that attack weeds, and diseases of insects (fungi, viruses) and weeds (fungi). Once established, biocontrol agents can often keep their hosts (pests) from becoming problems. If pesticide use is necessary, select products with no or little impact on biocontrol agents. This preserves their presence or allows the establishment of introduced biocontrol agents.
- Cultural control relates to production practices that discourage the introduction, establishment and development of pest populations. It minimizes the need for pesticides. Examples include growing pest resistant crop varieties, using disease-free plant materials, crop rotation, waste management, optimizing plant growth through proper use of plant nutrients, soil amendments, and sanitation.
- Mechanical control uses barriers or devices such as window screens, rodent traps, netting, fly paper, horticulture cloth, and mulches to exclude or destroy pests. These practices can reduce the need for pesticides.
- Chemical control uses pesticides to control pests. Often pesticides are used only when all other available control options have not kept pest populations below the ETL. New less toxic, more target-specific products (often referred to as reduced-risk pesticides) are replacing older broad-spectrum synthetic pesticides in order to reduce risks to food, environmental and human safety. However, these products on average cost more, and require more precise application timing and frequency.
- Evaluating the effects and efficacy of pest management actions. Use pesticide application and pest/damage monitoring records to assess how well the IPM program worked. The records can help determine why the program did not work as expected, and where improvements are necessary. Improvements may include better monitoring, use of more non-chemical pest management practices, or use of new reduced-risk pesticides.
In summary, pesticides will always be an important part of IPM programs. IPM
promotes careful use of pesticides based on an informed decision-making process.
This process involves preventing pests and combining control practices based on
current information on pest and beneficial presence, seasonal abundance,
economic impact, and evaluation of program performance.
The Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) of Health Canada defines reduced risk pesticides as pesticides that may reasonably be expected to accomplish one or more of the following:
- Reduce the risks of pesticides to human health.
- Reduce the risks of pesticides to non-target organisms.
- Reduce the potential for contamination of groundwater, surface water
valued environmental resources.
- Broaden the adoption of integrated pest management strategies, or make
strategies more available or more effective.
Reduced risk pesticides are either synthesized chemicals or chemicals derived from animals, plants, fungi or bacteria (called biopesticides). Examples of synthesized reduced risk pesticides are plant and insect growth regulators and chemicals that kill the pest but not the natural enemies.
Biopesticides include microbial pesticides (containing a live bacterium, fungus, virus, protozoan, or alga as the active ingredient), and chemicals derived from animals, bacteria, fungi and plants. A common biopesticide is Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt, that has different strains to specifically control caterpillar, mosquito, or beetle pests.
- Integrated Pest Management - BC Ministry of Agriculture
- Infobasket - IPM and related topics for specific crop and animal commodities - BC Ministry of Agriculture
- The PMRA Initiative for Reduced-Risk Pesticides - Pest Management Regulatory Agency
- Integrated Weed Management - An Introductory Manual - BC Ministry of Agriculture