INFO SHEET: Managing garden pests
by Russ Grayson, updated May 2020.
An integrated or diverse pest management strategy
Integrated Pest Management — known as IPM — is the smart approach to managing garden pests. It uses observation, knowledge, and thinking instead of the brute force of toxic chemical sprays.
- reduces or eliminates the use of
- synthetic, toxic garden biocides (pesticides, herbicides, fungicides etc) that can affect the health of gardeners as well as natural systems
- reduces or eliminates the need to use natural insecticides
- reduces damage to our plants by insect pests without killing all the beneficial insects that help control the pests.
A knowlege based practice
- includes the use of observation, experience, experimentation, knowledge, information and the application of multiple techniques
- is based on an understanding of garden ecology; it takes into account the garden food web in which predatory insects feed on the pest insects that eat our plants; the problem with synthetic pest sprays — and some of the natural sprays — is that they kill both pests and predators
- focuses on pest management, not complete eradication. It is applied when pest infestation grows to such an extent it threatens the health of our plants
- can be applied to plant diseases and weeds but is most commonly used to deal with insect pests
- is based on an understanding of our garden and the processes going on in it such as the relationships between plants and animals
- may include the use of botanical pesticides or herbicides as a last resort if there is severe infestation or weed invasion.
Misuse a health hazard
According the Paul Rogers (Safer Pest Control, 1997; Choice Books, Marrickville NSW), home owners use more pesticide per hectare than farmers, most home owners find difficulty interpreting information on the correct use of pesticides and a large number are unaware of the hazards or of the alternatives to synthetic chemical biocides.
He reports that 1990 figures disclose up to 25 million cases of pesticide poisoning each year around the world.
The potential for accidental poisoning by agricultural chemicals is greater where low literacy skills make it difficult for farmers to read instructions on the label of chemical containers.
Overuse of pesticides and herbicides also leads to the contamination of waterways.