Why Modern IPM Should Take a Wider View of Key Influences
In recent months, the big-picture outlook for integrated pest management (IPM) has been a seemingly popular topic in the entomological community. Just here on the Entomology Today blog, we’ve seen posts exploring why IPM is due for a reset, why the human factor should be added to the IPM equation, how the study of “social ecological systems” can boost IPM adoption, and how various barriers are preventing broader IPM adoption in developing countries.
That trend continues with a new article published late April in the open-access Journal of Integrated Pest Management, in which Surendra Dara, Ph.D., cooperative extension advisor at the University of California, envisions a “new paradigm” for IPM, one that more intentionally considers management, business, and sustainability in addition to ecological and economic factors.
“Crop production is an art, a science, and an enterprise,” Dara writes. “Each grower has their own strategy for producing crops, minimizing losses, and making a profit in a manner that is acceptable to the retailer, safe for the consumers, and less disruptive to the environment. In other words, IPM is an approach to manage pests in an economically viable, socially acceptable, and environmentally safe manner.”
Dara places what he terms collectively as “management” at the core of this proposed IPM model. There, the various pest-management methods for any given target organism are balanced with growers’ knowledge of IPM and access to IPM expertise, their organizational capacity, and the level of communication between and among growers, extension educators, and the public. Layered throughout these management elements are ongoing research and outreach.
Surrounding the core of management factors, per Dara’s model, are rings representing key aspects of the environment in which IPM is applied: business and sustainability. The business aspect builds upon the traditional economic-threshold considerations for pest management and takes into consideration the broader market forces imposed by sellers and consumers—and how well informed those players may or may not be about IPM’s role in food production.
The sustainability factor looks even more broadly at the need to balance economic viability with environmental safety and social acceptability. On this point Dara notes a need for improved consumer confidence in IPM-driven conventional food production as a counterpoint to the demand for organic.
“Although the two outer layers in the new model can be applicable to more than pest management, they do have a significant influence on IPM within the entire crop production and are the driving force for farming operations,” Dara writes. “Agricultural researchers, educators, sociologists, economists, business analysts, managers, growers, pest management professionals, agricultural input manufacturers, retailers, and consumers play a critical role in food production. By reconfiguring the components and including various factors that influence them, the new IPM model provides a template for focusing on different areas of the paradigm and to encourage collaboration among different disciplines.”
Journal of Integrated Pest Management