By Adam Pauley, NFU Intern

Here on the Climate Column, we’ve been talking about how milder winters due to climate change are contributing to greater pest pressures. Farmers are turning new agricultural methods to mitigate pests without exacerbating other environmental concerns. We’ve discussed a few methods already, including intercropping and crop rotation.

Another option is integrated pest management (IPM). According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS), IPM is a sustainable, ecosystem-based strategy to manage pests. This is achieved by implementing a combination of pest prevention, avoidance, monitoring, and suppression techniques such as chemical control, biological control, habitat manipulation, modification of cultural practices, and use of resistant varieties.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there are two main principles of integrated pest management system: focusing on prevention and using pesticides only when needed. They recommend first identifying pests and determining the best preventive and control measures. This could include installing pest barriers, maintaining diverse plant communities, or introducing natural enemies of pests.

In addition to decreasing yield volatility while also reducing unnecessary use of pesticides, IPM offers numerous other benefits. By cutting pesticide use, it can improve soil and water quality. At the same time, IPM can save farmers money. Fewer pesticides often means lower input costs, and IPM can stabilize future yields and income streams.

Have you experienced any changes in pests or weeds in recent years? Have you considered using integrated pest management system? Please share your thoughts or experiences with IPM in the comments below.

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