Integrated pest management (IPM) is an ecologically-friendly method to increase crop production and lower the damages sustained by pests. This is achieved by means of various management methods which reduces the use of chemical pesticides. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) emphasizes the healthy growth of crops with the minimal usage of pesticides and encourages the use of biological pest control methods .
IPM focuses on the long term application of ecologically-friendly biological methods such as natural predators, resistant plant strains, sterile male technique, and so on. The main reason that the FAO has started implementing the IPM in several regions was largely due to the hazardous impact of the certain chemicals contained in commercial pesticides.
Some studies show that the use of DDT in Africa to control malaria has given some adverse side effects such as breast cancer, diabetes, spontaneous abortions, decreased semen quality, and impaired child neurodevelopment . Thus, IPM aims to slowly reduce the use of pesticides via biological control methods.
Advantages of Integrated Pest Management
Besides lowering the impact of chemical substances on the biota in the ecosystem, there are several other benefits of IPM, such as:
- Slower development of resistance to pesticides
Pests can develop a resistance to pesticides over time. When the applications of the chemicals are used repeatedly, the pests can develop a resistance to the pesticides via natural selection, where the pests that survive the application of the chemicals will pass on their genes to their offspring [3,4].
This leads to the creation of “superpests”[sc:5]. IPM reduces the risk of this occurring as the methods adopted by IPM are natural.
- Maintaining a balanced ecosystem
The use of pesticides may eradicate the pest population. However, there is a risk that non-target organisms are also affected, which can result in species loss. IPM can eradicate pests while maintaining the balance of the ecosystem .
- Better cost vs. value margin
The reduced usage of pesticides is more cost effective in the long term, as IPM controls pests when there are surges, as opposed to the regularly timed application of pesticides .
Disadvantages of Integrated Pest Management
Disadvantages of IPM include:
- More involvement in the technicalities of the method
Individual farmers and all those involved in IPM have to be educated about their options in the various methods available, which often take time.
- Time and energy consuming
Application of IPM takes time and has to be closely monitored, as the practice of IPM has many different methods integrated in order to provide the most effective pest control methods. Different pests have different control methods, and it is necessary to monitor which methods are the best for specific pests.
However, the disadvantages are easily offset with the establishment of organizations that actually provide training and education to IPM practitioners.
In Malaysia, the Ministry of Agriculture actually provides support and training to farmers who apply IPM to control the pests in their farms. As the practice grows, the application of the IPM process can become easier over time.