//Biointensive Integrated Pest ManagementPage 2
Pest management is an ecological matter. Thesize of a pest population and the damage itinflicts is, to a great extent, a reflection of thedesign and management of a particular agricul-tural ecosystem.We humans compete with other organisms forfood and fiber from our crops. We wish tosecure a maximum amount of the food re-source from a given area with minimum inputof resources and energy. However, if theagricultural system design and/or manage-ment is faulty—making it easy for pests todevelop and expand their populations or,conversely, making it difficult for predatorsand parasites of pests to exist—then we will beexpending unnecessary resources for pestmanagement. Therefore, the first step in sus-tainable and effective pest management islooking at the design of the agricultural ecosys-tem and considering what ecological conceptscan be applied to the design and managementof the system to better manage pests and theirparasites and predators.The design and management of our agricul-tural systems need re-examining. We’ve cometo accept routine use of biological poisons inour food systems as normal. But routine use of synthetic chemicals represents significantenergy inputs into the agricultural system, andcarries both obvious and hidden costs to thefarmer and society. Attempting to implementan ecology-based discipline like IPM in largemonocultures, which substitute chemicalinputs for ecological design, can be an exercisein futility and inefficiency.IPM, as it was originally conceived, proposedto manage pests though an understanding of their interactions with other organisms and theenvironment. Most of the 77 definitions forIPM listed in
The Database of IPM Resources(DIR)
website, <http://www.ipmnet.org/ DIR/>, despite some differences in emphasis,agree with this idea and have the followingelements in common:
A conception of a managed resource, suchas a cropping system on a farm, as acomponent of a functioning ecosystem.Actions are taken to restore and enhancenatural balances in the system, not toeliminate species. Regular monitoringmakes it possible to evaluate the popula-tions of pest and beneficial organisms. Theproducer can then take steps to enhancenatural controls (or at least avoid or limitthe disruption of natural controls) of thetarget pest(s).
An understanding that the presence of apest does not necessarily constitute aproblem. Before a potentially disruptivecontrol method is employed, appropriatedecision-making criteria are used to deter-mine whether or not pest managementactions are
A consideration of all possible pest manage-ment options
action is taken.
A philosophy that IPM strategies integratea combination of all suitable techniques inas compatible a manner as possible; it isimportant that one technique not conflictwith another (1).However, IPM has strayed from its ecologicalroots. Critics of what might be termed “con-ventional” IPM note that it has been imple-mented as Integrated Pesticide Management(or even Improved Pesticide Marketing) withan emphasis on using pesticides as a tool of first resort. What has been missing from thisapproach, which is essentially reactive, is anunderstanding of the ecological basis of pestinfestations (see first bullet above). Alsomissing from the conventional approach are
guidelines for ecology-based manipulations of the farm agroecosystem
that address the questions:
Why is the pest there?
How did it arrive?
Why doesn’t the parasite/predatorcomplex control the pest?
“Conventional” and “Biointensive” IPM