What is Integrated Pest Management?
As defined by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, "the careful consideration of all available pest control techniques and subsequent integration of appropriate measures that discourage the development of pest populations and keep pesticides and other interventions to levels that are economically justified and reduce or minimize risks to human health and the environment. IPM emphasizes the growth of a healthy crop with the least possible disruption to agro-ecosystems and encourages natural pest control mechanisms."
Integrated pest management for disease management takes multiple strategies and combines them in an effort to manage disease by treating it directly, as well as preventing the onset of disease by addressing pest populations that serve as vectors for a given disease. What specific approach this necessitates varies greatly depending on the disease being prevented and what insect population or nematode is serving as a vector.
Your IPM plan begins with the identification of a problem disease, usually done with a combination of visual assessment, followed by lab testing to confirm. If a lab is not available, consult the UC IPM for guidelines on how to identify a given disease in your specific crop. Knowing what your problem is plays into determining the correct approach to solve it. Typically, this means the application of insecticides and beneficial predators to control the vector, and bactericides and fungicides to control disease outbreaks. Cultural management strategies also play an important role as many diseases are greatly influenced by watering methods and timing. It is important to have a complete view of your problem in order to properly address it.
*For more information and guides, please refer to our Resources page for helpful links. Or use the Ask A Question page to consult directly with one of our experts. Know that there is no 100% success rate for any method of pest population control, but with proper management and control solutions, you can maintain your operation for the long term.*
Example: Various kinds of bacterial and fungal infections can drastically affect the viability of your fruits and vegetables. A timely application of a product like Thyme Guard can help to prevent such issues, as well as treat them when they have already set in.
Organic Spray Solutions
Organic chemical applications work through varying methods. We offer a product, Thyme Guard, that attacks disease with a unique mode of action. It functions by directly attacking the cell walls of a fungus or bacteria, killing the disease by destroying its structure. Due to this unique attack, there is no risk of the disease becoming resistant to the chemical, which is a not uncommon issue with many traditional treatment solutions. This means that our product has a greater effective lifespan than traditional alternatives.
Often times, successful disease control is reliant on being well-prepared with knowledge of risk factors and how they vary from year to year. Be aware of high moisture periods throughout the year and have an appropriate response ready ahead of time in order to minimize damage. Consult as many resources as possible to find helpful management strategies and information. There are many public resources available.
Beneficial insects can play an important role in minimizing diseases in your crops and or garden. While they may not directly combat a given pathogen, predator insects and beneficial nematodes plan important role in reducing the vectoring of most diseases.
Nematodes are both a source of disease vectoring, and a way to combat it. Many crops have root systems that are vulnerable to diseases brought in by nematodes either present in the soil, or transported in unintentionally from a nursery. However, these can be combated by fostering beneficial nematode populations that displace the damaging nematodes, and occupy resources preventing them from becoming endemic. Nematodes can also be effective generalist predators, providing parasitism against numerous ground life stages of various pests (including gnats, fleas, various grubs, and more).
Predator beneficial insects help prevent disease by minimizing the presence of disease vectoring insects. Numerous predators such as lacewings, lady beetles, trichogramma (parasitic wasps) provide control by attacking pests at varying life stages and helping to keep their population to a minimum.