In order to achieve good harvests, it is of utmost importance to keep crops healthy; and to achieve this, Integrated Pest Management (IPM) must be implemented. This is a combination of knowledge to reduce pests, yet looking after the environment and our health.
FAO currently defines Integrated Pest Management as “the careful consideration of all the available control techniques and subsequent integration of proper measures to discourage the development of pest populations, while preserving the use of pesticides and other interventions at levels which are economically justified, and risks to human health or the environment become reduced or minimized. IPM focuses on the growth of healthy crops with the least possible effect on the agro-ecosystem, and promotes natural pest control mechanisms” (WHO/FAO, 2015).
There are many reasons why an IPM system should be implemented in a crop. These can be grouped into economic, social and environmental motivations.
Lesser expense on synthetic inputs.
Expense adjustment in rational application programs.
Improvement in the cost-benefit ratio of the crop.
Protection of water sources.
Protection of beneficial organisms.
Decrease in environmental contamination due to agrochemicals drift.
Lower risks to human health.
Improvement in well-being perception of communities where the production is located.
Other than the above, each agro-ecosystem and farmer may find other reasons and advantages to implement IPM in their crops.
Integrated Management begins with the knowledge of pests and diseases; it is important to learn in detail about the causing agent or insect which causes a disease, as this is the key to define the control strategies to be implemented.
Prevention. Establish measures seeking that the pest or disease does not establish itself in the crop, and to ensure that it does not find a suitable environment for reproduction and spread.
For pest prevention, the following aspects should be considered:
Selection of varieties. Choosing more resistant varieties.
Staggered planting on several dates.
Rotation between consecutive crops.
Ensure optimal plant spread or density.
Responsible management of soil, water and nutrition.
Harvest and storage.
Ensure food safety conditions in and around the crop/field.
Monitoring. It is the systematic inspection of the crop and the environment to identify the presence stage and the level of pest intensity, diseases and weeds. It is important to use the economic damage thresholds established by experts, or those determined based on the grower’s experience.
Decision making. The data from monitoring are the grounds for the decision-making process. This is where the choice is made on the correction strategy to be applied in the event that thresholds have been exceeded or in case that there is evidence for prediction and significant crop damages.
Intervention. Intervention relates to a series of control activities performed so that the pest level or disease incidence return to being below the threshold of economic damage. Depending on these levels, the intervention should be more or less stringent. It is important to stand out that the intervention may contemplate the use of agrochemicals, but this is not the only tool available. For example:
It incorporates traps to manage pests and diseases, among which, we can mention as follows: light, color, pheromone, and food traps, among others.
Chemicals with less toxicity and more effectiveness should be used.
Evaluation or verification. Evaluating the effectiveness of intervention measures is the last step of the intervention measures performed. Usually, a new monitoring can be carried out, in order to determine the success of the control activities performed. This verification stage indicates whether new control measures should be carried out, or if a return to prevention measures is made.
For this reason, Eleven Rivers Growers reconfirms its commitment to maintain the most important food safety requirements internationally. We establish within our auditing criteria that member companies of the Veggies From Mexico community have implemented measures for integrated pest management.