Integrated Pest Management

Integrated pest management (IPM) has been characterized as a decision-based process that involves coordination of multiple tactics for optimal control of all classes of pests (insect, disease, weed, and verte-

brate) in an economically and environmentally sound manner (Prokopy, 1993), thus leading to a greater level of sustainability of the system. There are two approaches to implementing IPM in deciduous tree fruit production. The first begins with a conventionally managed orchard that transitions to a more economically and environmentally sustainable agroecosystem as external inputs are reduced or eliminated in a stepwise manner. Alternatively, a second approach establishes a more natural orchard ecosystem in which external inputs are used only to augment natural processes (Brown, 1999).

IPM programs emphasize prevention, encouraging growers to choose sites, rootstocks, cultivars, and planting systems that will lead to ecological stability and economic viability. Soil conservation is also emphasized. A multiple tactic approach for pest control is one of the key components of IPM programs. For example, herbicide applications are not the sole basis for weed control. Instead, mechanical control methods such as mowing and tillage and cultural methods such as mulching are supplemented by herbicides. Monitoring is another key element of any IPM program, allowing growers to determine if and when pesticide applications are required for control of a particular pest. This approach is different from conventional systems that traditionally relied on residual activity as a guide to determine when subsequent applications were necessary. However, there is variability among IPM production systems as to the acceptability of particular management practices, as highlighted by the differences in the two fundamental approaches to IPM described earlier. For example, differences exist as to whether chemical thinning agents, synthetic plant growth regulators, and postharvest fungicide treatments can be used. Thus, the level of sustainability of IPM production systems, though considered to be greater than conventional systems, likely varies among practitioners.

Varying degrees of either IPM approach are commonly practiced in tree fruit production areas throughout the world. Until recently, there were no certification and/or marketing programs supporting IPM production. Therefore, it was difficult to justify the higher market price of fruit grown under IPM regimes. However, with certification and labeling programs, and other growing and marketing programs either under development or in practice, more tree fruit are being grown and marketed to reflect both the environmental and economic considerations of IPM programs.

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