Pest Management Tools
Many crop management practices can prevent or delay the development of pest outbreaks. Follow these cultural control tools:
- Choose sites less favourable for pest development through site selection.
- Select cultivars less susceptible to disease or insect pressure.
- Rotate to a non-host crop where possible to break the pest cycle.
- Some insects and diseases may overwinter in crop refuse.
- Use plants tested and determined to be free from disease or virus.
- Remove all sources of the pest, such as cull piles and dropped fruit from the field or orchard.
- Maintain good weed control and eliminate wild hosts from within as well as the perimeter of planting.
- Use non-related crops planted in close proximity as a barrier to insects and diseases. Avoid intercropping plants with similar pest complexes.
- Modify insect habitat through the introduction of cover crops to promote beneficial organisms.
- Avoid planting in poorly drained locations. Timely irrigation can reduce plant stress during drought and increase plant tolerance to pests. Schedule irrigation so that plants are not wet overnight.
- Manage nutrients to avoid excessively lush growth, which is more susceptible to some diseases and more attractive to some insect pests.
Chemical controls include synthetic, inorganic, botanical and biological pesticides. They kill target pests, limit subsequent populations and are important tools for crop protection when used in an IPM program.
Understand the pest’s life cycle and apply chemicals at the stage when the pest is most vulnerable.
- To manage insects and mites, monitor blocks closely and spray according to action thresholds established for each species.
- To manage disease, apply protective fungicides when weather conditions are favourable and before damage occurs.
Biological control uses a pest’s natural enemies to help suppress pest populations. These natural enemies, collectively known as “beneficials” may be predatory insects, parasites, pathogens or nematodes. Beneficials are most effective against indirect pests. They are less effective at keeping populations of direct pests, those that attack the harvested product, at levels acceptable for commercial production.
Natural enemies can be adversely affected by the crop environment and the pesticides used to manage pest populations. IPM programs attempt to minimize adverse effects of pesticides on beneficials and take advantage of the pest suppression provided by these insects.
- Avoid use of pesticides that are toxic to the most important beneficials in a cropping system.
- Encourage a diverse habitat around the perimeter of the field where beneficial insects can live.