Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Integrated Pest Management in Greenhouses

Consumers of greenhouse grown floriculture crops maintain high standards of quality. Pest and disease damage on floral products is not tolerated by consumers, which often requires a sizeable investment in pesticide applications. To maintain profitability, greenhouse growers are relying on softer, more environmentally friendly pesticides, integrated pest management, and beneficial organisms to manage pests and diseases.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines integrated pest management (IPM) as an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of common-sense practices. EPA outlines a generic four-tiered approach to IPM. These four steps include setting action thresholds, monitoring and identifying pests accurately, and prevention.

Expanded IPM in a greenhouse includes pest prevention, sanitation and exclusion, management of the greenhouse environment, monitoring the greenhouse crop, mechanical control, environmental control, cultural control, biological control, and chemical control.

Pest Prevention

Pest prevention in the greenhouse includes advanced planning of the crop to be grown and IPM programs, the practice of good sanitation and pest exclusion methods, the proper management of the greenhouse environment and other cultural practices, and the monitoring or scouting, which refers to regular, systematic inspection of crops and growing areas.

Sanitation

Sanitation involves clean practices in the greenhouse. Clean practices include eliminating weed infestations inside and outside the greenhouse. Weedy plants under the bench or around the perimeter of the greenhouse may harbor pests and diseases.

Exclusion

Exclusion methods include screening of vents doorways and other openings, inspection of newly introduced plants or plant shipments, the use of pest-free stock, controlling weeds, removal of crop debris, prompt removal of infested plants or plant parts, and maintaining the growing area as pest-free as possible.

Management of the Environment

Management of the greenhouse environment includes preventing plant stress. Plants under stress are predisposed to pest infestations.

Monitoring Crops

Monitoring the greenhouse crops is a strategy to detect any pest or disease outbreaks early and at a time when they are easy to manage. Many refer to monitoring as scouting. Scouting is the regular, systematic inspection of crops and growing areas.

Mechanical Control

Mechanical pest control in a greenhouse implies the use of labor and equipment to reduce pest populations directly. Mechanical control may be as simple as removing infested plants.

Cultural Control

Cultural control measures to prevent pest outbreaks include choosing crop species or cultivars that are less susceptible to infestations than others, rotation of crops from susceptible to not susceptible, altering planting times, and adjusting the duration and frequency of irrigation intervals.

Beneficial Organisms

Beneficial organisms can be used in a greenhouse to reduce pest populations. Biological control methods to be effective must be integrated with other methods, such as exclusion and sanitation.

Chemical Control

Chemical control implies the use of a pesticide. The United States Environmental Protection Agency defines a pesticide as any substance or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any pest.

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1 comment:

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