June 2000 // Volume 38 // Number 3 // Tools of the Trade // 3TOT1
Massachusetts Integrated Pest Management Guidelines: Crop-Specific Definitions
"The Massachusetts IPM Guidelines: Crop Specific Definitions" provide a method to measure the relative adoption of integrated pest management for 13 crops. The guidelines can be used as an educational tool that describes the scope and complexity of IPM; as a checklist for farmers to evaluate improve their management; or to verify and document that IPM is practiced on the farm. The 66-page publication is available for $6.00 from University of Massachusetts Extension or is available through a Website.
In a general sense, integrated pest management (IPM) can be defined as a systematic approach to pest management that considers all factors affecting crop health, including plant nutrition, horticultural practices, and all suitable means of pest suppression. Pest management tactics may include biological, chemical, mechanical, and cultural methods, but different tactics are often required for different crops, pests and climatic situations.
Given these broadly defined and variable characteristics, growers and Extension specialists have been heard to state that the practice of IPM cannot be defined or measured. A new publication provides a means to measure the relative adoption of IPM.
"The Massachusetts IPM Guidelines: Crop Specific Definitions" are a series of research-based best management practices encompassing soil and nutrient management; cultural practices; pesticide application techniques, record-keeping, tactics for insect, disease, and weed management; and grower education. Specific practices are assigned points based on their importance to an IPM system. Bonus points are given for experimental techniques. Some advantages of the point system are:
- It allows flexibility to design site-specific systems;
- It encourages use of most desirable practices by weighting; and
- It allows partial credit for trying a practice on a portion of the farm.
The publication includes guidelines for apple, cole crops, cranberry, field and greenhouse tomato, blueberry, peppers, poinsettia, potato, pumpkin and winter squash, raspberry, strawberry, sweet corn, and wine grape.
To assure practicality and relevance, the guidelines were developed with the cooperation of growers, university faculty and extension specialists, private IPM consultants, and commodity associations. Most crop guidelines were used, tested, and adjusted through the USDA Farm Service Agency Integrated Crop Management cost-share program (SP-53) and through Massachusetts' IPM certification program, Partners with Nature.
IPM guidelines can be used in a number of ways:
1) As an educational tool that describes the scope and complexity of IPM to farmers, government officials, community groups, and the general public;
2) As a checklist for farmers to evaluate their on-farm pest management programs and identify areas where management can be improved; and
3) As a tool to verify and document that IPM is practiced on the farm.
Development of the Massachusetts IPM Guidelines was funded by University of Massachusetts Extension, Massachusetts Department of Food and Agriculture and USDA Extension Service under special project number 94-EPMP-1-0049.
"Massachusetts IPM Guidelines: Crop Specific Definitions," UMass Extension publication IP-IPMA (66 pp.) can be ordered for $6.00 through the UMass Extension Bookstore, Draper Hall, UMass, Amherst MA 01003 or through the bookstore Website <http://www.umass.edu/umext/bookstore/>. The guidelines can also be viewed at the UMass Extension Website at: <http://www.umass.edu/umext/programs/agro/ipm/ipm_guidelines/>.