Integrated Pest Management (ipm), Pesticide Use And Safety, & Managing Pesticide Resistance

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Greeting farmers - I though I would share some of the information on pests and pesticides I had been putting together over the last year for my 'farm manual'. Most of this information comes from various UC sources such as UC Davis or organizations like the Pesticide Action Network (PAN).

The goal of this thread is to help people make safer and smarter choices when dealing with pests in their garden. All pesticides, even organic ones, can be dangerous if not handled and applied correctly. In addition, pest resistance is a growing problem, and needs to be considered when applying pest control measures.

This is not meant to be an organic vs conventional debate. My personal preference is for organic measures, but I also recognize that they may not always be effective in every situation. Furthermore if you are looking for a quick and easy reference for what pesticide to use for certain pests, this thread is not for you. No specific products will be mentioned anywhere in what follows.


Pesticides 101 - A Primer

From Pesticide Action Network (PAN)

What are pesticides?

Insecticides (bug killers), herbicides (weed killers), and fungicides (fungus killers) are all pesticides; so are rodenticides and antimicrobials. Pesticides come in spray cans and crop dusters, in household cleaners, hand soaps and swimming pools. Pesticides, even organic ones, are by definition toxic and must be handled and applied carefully and correctly.

Insecticides are generally acutely (immediately) toxic. Many are designed to attack an insect's brain and nervous system, which can mean they have neurotoxic effects in humans as well. Herbicides are more widely used (Round-Up and atrazine are the two most used pesticides in the world) and present chronic exposure risks, such as cancer and reproductive harm. Fungicides are also used in large amounts; some are more benign, some are not.

Pesticides are also sometimes broken down into chemical classes and modes of action (e.g. fumigants are pesticides applied as gases to "sterilize" soil, and systemics work their way through a plant's tissue after being taken up at the root). Major chemical classes include: carbamates, organochlorines and organophosphates (mostly developed 70 or more years ago for chemical warfare); and newer classes including pyrethroids and neonicitinoids, synthesized to mimic nature's pest protection.

What is the "Pesticide Treadmill"?

Also referred to as the "pesticide trap." Farmers get caught on the treadmill as they are forced to use more and more — and increasingly toxic — chemicals to control insects and weeds that develop resistance to pesticides. As "superbugs" and "superweeds" develop, a farmer will spend more on pesticides each year just to keep crop loss from pests at a standard rate.

Pesticide resistance is increasing. In the 1940s, U.S. farmers lost 7% of their crops to pests. Since the 1980s, loss has increased to 13%, even though more pesticides are being used. Between 500 and 1000 insect and weed species have developed pesticide resistance since 1945. "Pigweed" has developed resistance to Round-Up, for instance, and grows with such uncontrollable vigor in southern cotton fields that farmers report it can "stop a combine in its tracks." Rachel Carson predicted the phenomenon in her 1962 book Silent Spring.

Which rules govern pesticide use?

Internationally, pesticides are regulated through two treaties that PAN played a formative role in creating. The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs treaty) and the Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent (PIC treaty). The POPs treaty addresses toxins that persist, move around the world on wind and water, and bioaccumulate (DDT, for example), while Rotterdam gives countries the right to refuse the import of highly hazardous toxins. PIC attempts to redress the dumping of obsolete or banned pesticides on the developing world. (While only 25% of global pesticide use takes place in developing countries, 99% of acute pesticide-related fatalities occur there.)

In the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has primary authority to register and regulate pesticides, authorized by several federal laws including:

Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) — allows EPA to register pesticides using risk/benefit standards (how much risk is balanced by how much benefit?);

Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) — aims to increase protection for children and infants, setting tolerances (maximum residues on food);

Food Quality Protection Act of 1996 (FQPA) — amends the previous laws by establishing a single safety standard for tolerances — not risk/benefit — to increase protection of children from aggregate exposures (dietary, water and residential); adds a 10-fold safety factor and requires ongoing review of registrations;

Endangered Species Act of 1973 — requires that pesticides that will harm these species will not be registered.

Some states have additional, stricter rules restricting pesticide use.

How much exposure do we face?

It depends on where you live and what you do. Each year, an estimated 1 billion pounds of pesticides are applied to U.S. farms, forests, lawns and golf courses. More than 17,000 pesticide products are currently on the market.

Pesticide applicators, farmers and farm workers, and communities near farms are often most at risk, but studies by the Centers for Disease Control show that all of us carry pesticides in our bodies. Golf courses use pesticides heavily, so do some schools and parks. Consumers also face pesticide exposure through food and water residues. For instance, atrazine is found in 94% of U.S. drinking water tested by the USDA.

There are alternatives however; agroecology is the science behind sustainable farming. This powerful approach combines scientific inquiry with place-based knowledge and experimentation, emphasizing approaches that are knowledge-intensive, low cost, ecologically sound and practical.

Home use of pesticides — which on a per acre basis outpaces use on farms by a ratio of 10 to 1 — puts families across the North America at unnecessary risk. Knowing how and when to properly apply a pesticide greatly reduces risk and exposure. In addition, many non-toxic alternatives are available to manage home, lawn and garden pests.


Pesticides: Safe and Effective Use in the Home and Landscape

From UC Davis IPM

Pesticides are designed to be toxic to the pests they target—whether they are insects, cause plant disease, or are weeds or other unwanted home and garden invaders. When used properly, pesticides can protect your plants or home from damage. However, when the label instructions are not followed correctly, plant injury may occur, pests may not be controlled, health may be impaired, and pesticides may contribute to soil, air, or water pollution.

Before you purchase and use a pesticide, learn all you can about the material, how to use it, and how to properly dispose of the empty containers. Also, carefully consider whether or not a pesticide is necessary and if a nonchemical solution might be just as effective.

Definition of a Pesticide:

A pesticide is any material (natural, organic, or synthetic) used to control, prevent, kill, suppress, or repel pests. "Pesticide" is a broad term that includes insecticides (insect killers), herbicides (weed or plant killers), fungicides (fungus killers), rodenticides (rodent killers), growth regulators, and other materials like miticides, which are used for mite control, or products that kill snails and slugs (molluscicides).

Deciding to use a Pesticide:

Before using any pesticide, be sure you need it. Verify that the organism you seek to control is really causing lasting damage, and research alternative management methods. Keep in mind that most pests cannot be entirely eliminated—even with pesticides. Some questions to ask before choosing to use a pesticide include:

Is a pest really the cause of your problem?

More often than most people imagine, pesticide products are applied unnecessarily because the cause of damage has been misidentified. Damage can also be the result of other factors such as incorrect irrigation, poor drainage, herbicide toxicity, or physical damage.

How many pests are there and will a pesticide spray be justified?

A few caterpillars on a plant might not be a problem that requires any pesticide action on your part, especially if natural enemies of the caterpillars are present. However, a very high population causing severe leaf loss or damage to edible fruits or nuts may mean you would want to control the pest. Be sure to base decisions on presence of pests—not damage levels—and on your knowledge of the pest's life cycle. For instance, often by the time a tree is defoliated (stripped of leaves), pests are gone and sprays will be of no use. In the case of foliar diseases, many fungicides must be applied preventatively before symptoms are noticeable.

Can you change the conditions which have caused the pest to become a problem?

Prevention is always the best way to manage a pest problem. Will the conditions change due to the weather or other environmental factors? Is the problem due to gardening practices that can be changed? Each specific pest organism has optimum environmental conditions for causing damage. For instance, powdery mildew in many plants is favored by shade and conditions that favor off-season growth. Sometimes providing plants with a sunny location, opening up canopies to provide air circulation, and avoiding excessive fertilizing will keep the disease from becoming serious. Overhead sprinkling may also reduce powdery mildew problems on some plants.

Other than a pesticide, what else might work?

There are many ways to manage pests other than pesticides including:

Cultural control (using the right pruning, fertilizing or watering regime, or selecting pest- resistant varieties or species)

Physical control (for example, using mulches to keep weeds from growing, or solarization for soilborne pathogens or weed seeds)

Mechanical control (hoeing weeds, spraying leaves forcefully with water to remove insects, or using traps or creating barriers to exclude pests)

Biological control (using beneficial organisms such as insects that eat or parasitize other insects)

Replant (in extreme cases, where a plant requires regular pesticide treatment, consider replanting with a more pest-resistant species or variety)

If you decide to use a pesticide, use it in an integrated pest management (IPM) program that includes use of nonchemical methods. In almost all cases, a combination of measures will provide the most satisfactory and long-term pest control.


Pesticides: Safe and Effective Use in the Home and Landscape (continued)

Choosing the Right Pesticide:

The first step in choosing a pesticide is to accurately identify the organism (e.g., the specific insect, weed, or plant disease) that is causing the problem. If the pest is misidentified, you will not be able to choose an effective pesticide or other management strategy. If you aren't confident that you can do this using your own experience, get help from your University of California Cooperative Extension office or other reliable source. Use the plant problem-solving tables in the back of University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources publications, Pests of the Garden and Small Farm and Pests of Landscape Trees and Shrubs to identify major pests on most common garden plants.

If a pesticide is needed, select one that is effective against your pest and also poses the least risks to human health and the environment. A good source of information for identifying effective, least-toxic methods and pesticides for use against specific pests is the University of California (UC) Pest Notes series available at UC Cooperative Extension offices or on the UC Statewide IPM Program Web site. When shopping for a pesticide, it is important to consult the label to be sure the target pest and site is listed. However, don't use a label as your primary source for selecting the best control product. In addition to pests that are effectively controlled, pesticide labels often picture or list pests against which the product is only marginally effective. Getting information from University publications, UC Cooperative Extension offices, or other knowledgeable experts is a better strategy.

Before purchasing a pesticide, also check the label to be sure it is appropriate to use on your plants or treatment site. For instance:

Be sure the particular type of plant or site you plan to treat is listed on the label.

Do not use pesticides labeled for use on ornamental plants or plants that will be eaten.

Never use pesticides labeled for "outdoor use only" indoors.

Pesticides can seriously damage some plants; read the label to be sure treated plants won't be injured.

Finally, when choosing pesticides, remember that most pesticides (even the more toxic ones) only control certain stages of the pest. Many insecticides kill only the larval (e.g., caterpillars) stage, not the eggs or pupae. Other insecticides target only adults. Many fungicides are preventive treatments and will not eliminate infections that have already started, although they may slow their spread. Likewise, some herbicides (preemergence herbicides) kill germinating weeds but not established ones, while others (postemergence herbicides) are effective against actively growing weeds.

Always Read the Pesticide Label:

Important information regarding the pesticide can be found on the product's label. The label is a legal document required for every pesticide registered in the United States. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency must approve the label. Always keep the product in the original package. Some of the information that is contained on the label includes:

Trade name or brand name

Active ingredients and their percentage by weight

Types of plants or sites where pesticide may be used

Pests targeted

How much to use

How and when to apply

Required protective clothing and equipment

Signal word defining short-term toxicity to people (DANGER, WARNING, or CAUTION)

Precautionary statements defining hazards to people, domestic animals, or the environment

Emergency and first aid measures to take if someone has been exposed

How to properly store and dispose of the pesticide and empty containers

Least-Toxic Alternatives:

Choose the least-toxic pesticide that will solve your problem. Least-toxic alternatives are usually suggested in the UC IPM Pest Notes. Examples of least-toxic insecticides include insecticidal petroleum or plant-based oils, soaps, and the microbial insecticide Bacillus thuringiensis.

Pesticides are used because they kill or control the target pest. "Selective" pesticides kill only a few closely related organisms. Others are broader spectrum, killing a range of pests but also nontarget organisms. Most pesticides are not without some negative impacts on the environment. For instance, some insecticides with low toxicity to people may have high toxicity to beneficial insects like parasitic wasps or other desirable organisms like honey bees, earthworms, or aquatic invertebrates. Most herbicides selectively kill some weeds, but can also kill desirable garden plants if not used properly. Pesticide persistence—or how long it remains toxic in the environment—is also a factor in the safety of pesticides. Pesticides that break down rapidly usually have less negative impact on the environment, but are more difficult to use. Because they don't leave toxic residues that will kill pests arriving hours or days after the application, they must be applied precisely when the vulnerable stage of the pest is present.

The signal words Danger, Warning, or Caution on a pesticide label indicate the immediate toxicity of a single exposure of a product to humans. Over the years, these words have been the consumer's primary guide to relative safety of products. However, signal words do not give an indication of potential for causing chronic problems (e.g., cancer, reproductive problems or other long-term health effects). They also do not reflect potential hazards for wildlife, beneficial insects and many other nontarget organisms. However, most home and garden products are relatively safe and unlikely to cause injury to people if label directions are carefully followed. Precautionary statements on labels give additional information on harmful effects or additional safeguards that should be taken. For more information on hazards of specific pesticides, review the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) available from the pesticide manufacturer, or see the National Pesticide Information Center, or telephone 800-858-7378.


Pesticides: Safe and Effective Use in the Home and Landscape (continued)

Pesticide Application Equipment:

Read the pesticide label carefully and be sure that you have the proper equipment for applying it safely. You will need protective clothing to protect yourself from exposure even when applying the safest pesticides. Minimally, protective gear should include rubber gloves, eye protection, a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, and closed shoes. Avoid using cotton gloves or lightweight dust masks that may absorb the spray and result in prolonged contact with your skin. Read the pesticide label carefully for additional protective requirements.

Required equipment varies according to your application site, your choice of pesticide, and your willingness to work with more complicated application devices. For many home and garden pesticide applications, the best choice is to purchase a ready-to-use product in a trigger pump type of sprayer. Ready-to-use products eliminate the need to dilute and mix pesticides or purchase special equipment and are excellent for spot treatments on small plants and shrubs. At the other end of the spectrum are compressed air sprayers, which require careful maintenance and operation as well as precise mixing of chemicals.

If you mix your own pesticides, keep a set of measuring spoons or cups for use only with pesticides. It is a good idea to write "PESTICIDE ONLY" on them to distinguish them from your kitchen utensils, and keep them well away from food preparation areas. A locked storage cabinet in a garden shed, garage, or well-ventilated utility area is the best place to store pesticides and equipment you use to mix or apply pesticides. If you are spraying for weed control, keep a sprayer specifically for that purpose and label it "WEEDS ONLY." Otherwise, herbicide residue in the sprayer may injure plants if the same sprayer is used for applying another type of pesticide or fertilizer.

Take a shower as soon after application as possible. Wash clothing separately from other laundry. Never smoke, drink, eat, or use the bathroom after pesticide application without washing first.

Measuring and Diluting Pesticide Concentrates:

Properly measuring concentrated formulations of pesticides is essential for their effective and safe use. The application rate for most insecticides and fungicides is given on the label in ounces per gallon of water used in the spray applicator. It is essential that you follow these procedures properly and dilute and apply materials as required. For herbicides and some uses of insecticides and fungicides (such as applications on lawns), the label will indicate the amount of pesticide to use for a given area. In these cases, you'll need to measure the area you are treating to calculate how much to mix up.

Remember, if the label specifies a dilution rate, you need to follow the label directions precisely. Before mixing up your pesticide, test out your sprayer with water to assure you will cover the recommended area with the recommended amount of diluted spray. If not, you will need to adjust your application rate accordingly by walking or spraying slower or faster.

Insecticide or fungicide directions for fruit or ornamental trees often don't specify areas in square feet to be treated. They often say something such as "wet plants to dripping point, thoroughly cover both sides of leaves." For these applications or for spot treatments, it is also a good idea to test out your sprayer with water to see how much spray you need to cover a fruit or ornamental tree or other area. That way you'll know how much product to mix up.

Never use more than what the directions recommend. The pest will not be controlled any faster and you will be wasting the pesticide, your time, and money while potentially causing plant injury and contaminating the environment with excess chemicals. Mix up only as much as you need immediately; don't store leftover pesticide solutions. They may be susceptible to quality changes at high or very low temperatures or by settling out.

How to dilute an herbicide:

For most herbicides, the application rate is stated in ounces per 100 square feet or 1000 square feet, so you need to know how large an area you are treating in order to determine the amount of product to use. Suppose you are trying to kill weeds in your lawn and the herbicide label states "use 2 oz. per 1000 square feet." After measuring, you find your lawn is only 600 square feet. Therefore, you would use (600 square feet/1000 square feet) X 2 oz. = 0.6 X 2 oz. = 1.2 oz. of herbicide to treat the entire lawn.

You also must calculate how much water you need to add to your sprayer. Insecticide and fungicide labels and many herbicide labels tell you how much water to add to dilute your spray. If a certain volume of water is not listed, you can determine how much you need by spraying a small area with the sprayer and a known quantity of clean water. Then divide by the fraction of the area where you plan to apply the herbicide. For example, if you found out that one quart of water covered 100 square feet, you can assume you will need 6 quarts to cover 600 square feet. Mix your 1.2 oz of herbicide in 6 quarts of water.


Pesticides: Safe and Effective Use in the Home and Landscape (continued)

Minimizing Environmental Contamination:

Use spot treatments where the pest is most prevalent; avoid widespread applications of the pesticide throughout your garden or home. For spot treatments, mix the pesticide according to label instructions, and apply the mixture only to the affected area. Bait stations for ants, wick or shielded applicators for some herbicides, and tree trunk treatments for certain insects are other ways of limiting environmental exposure.

Be sure pesticides are properly applied to the target plant or site and can't move onto other plants or areas. Pesticides can easily move off target with wind. Do not spray during windy conditions when pesticides can be carried into areas where they aren't needed or wanted.

Be sure the application does not run off or blow into drains, creeks, or other water bodies so you can prevent contamination of water supplies. Avoid applying chemicals just before irrigation or rainy weather, unless labels specify post-application irrigation. Also avoid applying pesticides to hard surfaces such as sidewalks, driveways, and foundations, because they can easily be washed off and go into storm drains.

Follow the guidelines below for protecting environmental quality and keeping pesticides out of our waterways.

Keep Pesticides out of our Waterways:

Pesticides applied in the garden can move off target by drifting in the air or washing off into storm drains or creeks.

Follow these guidelines:

Be aware of weather patterns and do not apply pesticides just prior to rainfall or during windy conditions.

Avoid applying pesticides to hard surfaces such as sidewalks or driveways, where they can easily be washed off.

Check pesticide labels for warnings regarding use near bodies of water such as streams, rivers, and lakes.

Never dispose of pesticides in storm drains, sinks, or toilets.

Under no circumstances should pest control equipment be cleaned in a location where rinse water could flow into gutters, storm drains, or open waterways.

Never apply more than the rate listed on a pesticide label.

Be aware that some pesticides are more easily carried in surface runoff than others and therefore have a greater potential to move off site during irrigation or storms. The leaching and runoff risks of specific pesticides can be obtained from the UC IPM Web site WaterTox database.

Disposing of Leftover Pesticides:

Try to purchase only as much pesticide as you will use in the immediate future. This will eliminate the need to store the unused products. If you can't use up your pesticides in a timely manner, share them with a friend or neighbor who can use them, but always keep these materials in their original containers. Do not use an old soda bottle or anything that could be mistaken for a drink container. People have been poisoned and killed by inadvertently drinking from these containers. Don't dilute more pesticide than you can use right away. Diluted pesticide needs to be applied according to label directions to plants or sites listed on the label and at label rates until the spray tank is empty. Excess diluted pesticide should be disposed of at a household hazardous waste facility.

Do not dump excess, unwanted, or old material down the drain, onto the soil, or into open waterways, gutters, storm drains or sewers, or in the trash. The only legal way to dispose of pesticides is to take them to your local household hazardous waste disposal facility. In California, call the California Environmental Hotline (1-800-253-2687) to find the hazardous waste disposal site closest to you, or check the Earth911 website.

Empty containers of concentrated home-use pesticides in the possession of a homeowner on his/her property may be disposed of in the trash without rinsing. Empty containers of ready-to-use products may also be disposed of in the trash. Professionals who use concentrated liuquid pesticides must rinse the container three times before disposal. The best time to rinse is when you are using up the last remaining pesticide in the container. Add the remaining pesticide to the sprayer. Add water to the empty pesticide container, put the cap on, swirl the water around the container, and transfer the liquid to the spray tank. Repeat two times. If necessary, add more water to the spray tank to reach the correct concentration. This way, you will have rinsed the bottle three times and used the rinse water to make the pesticide application.

Don't pour unused rinse liquid down any drain or sewer or in the trash. Unused rinse liquid is considered hazardous waste and must be disposed of properly at a hazardous waste facility or as suggested above.

Indoor vs Outdoor Pesticides:

Use only pesticides specifically labeled for indoor use inside the house. Many outdoor pesticides are designed to break down into less toxic substances with ventilation and in the daylight and the rain. Without these conditions the pesticides may linger and cause toxic conditions for humans or pets.


Introduction to Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

The goal of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is to control populations of pests below levels that result in economic damage. Ideally, this is achieved through the integration of all suitable control techniques in a compatible manner. The success of IPM in non-organic production systems is often due to a ready arsenal of efficacious synthetic chemical pesticides. Indeed, many of the IPM systems developed for non-organic crops are based on the pre-emptive use of pest control materials (e.g., genetically modified crops, insecticidal seed treatments) or assessment of pest populations and reaction to them with the use of “therapeutic” materials (chemical or biological) in a timely, but reactive way.

In contrast, organic farming systems rely on ecologically-based practices such as cultural and biological pest management, and virtually exclude the use of synthetic chemicals in crop production. Genetically modified crops are not allowed. Under organic farming systems, the fundamental components and natural processes of ecosystems, such as soil organism activities, nutrient cycling, and species distribution and competition, are used directly and indirectly as farm management tools and to prevent pest populations from reaching economically-damaging levels. For example, crops are rotated, planting and harvesting dates are carefully planned, and habitats that supply resources for beneficial organisms are provided. Soil fertility and crop nutrients are managed through tillage and cultivation practices, crop rotations, cover crops, and supplemented with manure, composts, crop waste material, and other allowed substances.

In organic systems, the goal is to design the production system so that pests do not find plants, are controlled by natural enemies (biological control), or their damage is kept to a minimum. Vigorous, healthy plants are more able to withstand damage caused by arthropods and disease. Therefore, a “plant positive” (as opposed to “pest negative”) approach of managing the system for beneficial processes and cycles and creating healthy soil and plants, is at the foundation of integrated pest management in organic systems.

Many different tactics may be available in IPM, including cultural practices, biological control agents, pesticides, pest-resistant varieties, mechanical methods and physical barriers. In IPM, these tactics may be combined into a plan that best suits the particular situation. It is a comprehensive approach dedicated to removing causes rather than just treating symptoms. The most effective IPM programs are based on an ecological understanding of the pests’ interactions with the crops, other organisms, and the environment. Ultimately, IPM practitioners determine whether intervention is needed and:

1) When it is needed,

2) Where it is needed, and

3) Which pest management intervention(s) will be appropriate.

Since the advent of synthetic pesticides in the mid-20th century, conventional pest management has consisted of spraying whenever pests appear, or even on a “calendar schedule” based on a worst case scenario for the target pests. Herbicides are routinely applied pre- and post plant, based on the major weed species, emergence patterns, and expected competition against the crop in a given region or locale.

During the 1970s, heavy pesticide use on the nation’s farmlands raised human health and environmental concerns, as well as increasing pest resistance to the chemicals. In response, agricultural scientists explored ways to control pests more effectively with fewer pesticide sprays. Practical on-farm applications of these endeavors became Integrated Pest Management, or IPM.

Early students of IPM sought to understand both crop and pest within the larger context of the farm ecosystem or agro ecosystem—consisting of all the living organisms on the farm and its immediate surroundings, and the interactions among those life forms and their physical environment. The agro ecosystem includes the farm’s crops, weeds and natural vegetation; livestock, wildlife, insect and other pests, and their natural enemies; soils and their tremendous diversity of micro- and macro organisms; ground and surface waters, topography, and climate. Understanding these interactions and how they can impact the crop and its pests can point the way to nontoxic and non-disruptive practices that limit pest species’ ability to proliferate and become a problem that requires a pesticide treatment. Early IPM programs emphasized cropping system planning based on this knowledge, and preventive measures, as well as a “spray only when really necessary” approach to pest occurrences. Several principles guided these efforts:

Restore and maintain natural balance within the farm ecosystem, rather than attempt to eliminate species. Higher biodiversity usually confers greater stability.

Monitor pest and beneficial populations; take steps to protect and enhance natural pest controls.

The mere presence of a pest does not automatically mandate a pesticide application. Appropriate decision making criteria, such as Economic Thresholds (ETs) are applied to determine whether and when control measures are warranted.

All pest control options—physical, cultural, and biological, as well as chemical—are considered before action is taken.

Integrate a set of complementary techniques and tools that work additively or synergistically, taking care that one tactic does not interfere with another.

Defining IPM:

Since the 1930’s, over 60 definitions of IPM have been published. Here is a basic definition:

"Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is the coordinated use of pest and environmental information along with available pest control methods, including cultural, biological, genetic and chemical methods, to prevent unacceptable levels of pest damage by the most economical means and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment".

Integrated means that all feasible types of control strategies are considered and combined as appropriate to solve a pest problem.

Pests are unwanted organisms that are a nuisance to man or domestic animals, and can cause injury to humans, animals, plants, and property. Pests reduce yield and/or quality in plants ranging from field crops, fruits and vegetables, to lawns, trees, and golf courses.

Management is the process of making decisions in a systematic way to keep pests from reaching intolerable levels. Small populations of pests can often be tolerated; total eradication is often not necessary, or feasible.

The Basics of IPM:

All of the components of an IPM approach can be grouped into three activities. The first is monitoring; the second is assessing the pest situation; and the third is taking action. Trace these steps through this web site by reading through these pages. For more information follow the links on each page.

IPM is information intensive and relies on scouting and monitoring programs for the collection of field data about key factors such as:

Pest population identification.

Disease pressure.

Weather conditions and degree-days.

Pest date of first occurrence of biological events in their annual cycle.

Crop growth stage.

Presence, reliance and preservation of beneficial organisms.


Introduction to Integrated Pest Management (continued)

IPM uses decision support systems for determining if control measures are necessary and what measures are most appropriate. Such as:

Economic thresholds - the pest population level that inflicts crop damage greater than the cost of control.

Availability of selective pesticides.

Action levels - pest level when action should be applied to prevent pest from reaching injurious levels.

Environmental risk measurements (i.e. impacts on pollinators).

Disease forecasting systems.

IPM programs seek to avoid pest damage through practices such as:

Use of field sanitation and reduction of pest habitat.

Crop rotations.

Selection of pest/disease tolerant or resistant seeds and varieties.

Judicious use of pesticides that prevent pest infestations.

Resistance management.

Why Practice IPM?

You might be wondering why you should even consider IPM when pesticides so often succeed at controlling pests. Here are some reasons for using a broader approach to pest management than just the use of pesticides. Many IPM practices are used before a pest problem develops to prevent or hinder the buildup of pests.

Keep a Balanced Ecosystem: Every ecosystem, made up of living things and their non-living environment, has a balance; the actions of one creature in the ecosystem usually affect other, different organisms. Many of our actions in an ecosystem can change this balance, destroying certain species and allowing other species (sometimes pests themselves) to dominate. Beneficial insects, such as the ladybird beetle and lacewing larvae, both of which consume pests, can be killed by pesticides, leaving fewer natural mechanisms of pest control.

Reliance on Pesticides can be Problematic: Pesticides are not always effective when used as a singular control tactic. Pests can become resistant to pesticides. In fact, some 600 cases of pests developing pesticide resistance have been documented to date, including populations of common lamb-quarters, house flies, Colorado potato beetle, Indian meal moth, Norway rats, and greenhouse whitefly.

IPM Is Not Difficult: You will have done much of the “work” for an IPM approach if you’ve figured out the problem (the pest), determined the extent of the pest population, and decided on the best combination of actions to take.

Maximize Effectiveness of Control Tactics: Pest control practitioners, following traditional programs, sometimes apply pesticide treatments on a calendar based schedule regardless of the stage of development of the target pest and the number of pests present. Using an IPM approach will ensure that all control tactics, including pesticides, are used at the proper time and only to reduce pest damage to acceptable levels. This will reduce costs from unnecessary pesticide applications and insure that control tactics are used when they will be most effective.

Promote a Healthy Environment: The definition of IPM promotes a careful consideration of all pest control options with protection of the environment a key goal.

Natural Enemies Conserved: Parasites and predators are part of the natural control mechanism for some pest populations. These natural controls are considered and protected in an IPM program

Maintain a Good Public Image: A thoughtful approach to pest control, which protects the environment and provides an abundant, affordable crop and safe living conditions, is a basic goal of IPM.

Biointensive IPM:

In practice, IPM has evolved into the science of using field scouting protocols and research-based economic thresholds to determine whether and when to use a pesticide. When pest population or visible pest damage reaches a level at which economically significant losses of crop yield or quality are likely in the absence of control measures, a pesticide is applied. While this “conventional IPM” approach can significantly reduce pesticide use, it still relies on chemicals as the primary tool in pest management. Pest- and disease-resistant crop varieties are sometimes recommended; otherwise the proactive, integrated and ecological aspects of IPM are often neglected. In the words of agro ecologist Miguel Altieri, “Integrated Pest Management should be oriented to preventing outbreaks by improving stability of the crop systems, rather than coping with pest problems as they arise.”.

Goals and Strategies of Biointensive IPM:

The limited vision of conventional IPM has led sustainable agriculture researchers to take the next step into biologically-based IPM, or biointensive IPM, which returns to the ecological roots of the original IPM concept. Biointensive IPM:

Emphasizes proactive (preventive) strategies, adopted in planning the cropping system, to minimize opportunities for pests to become a problem.

Utilizes living organisms, ecosystem processes and cultural practices to prevent and manage pests whenever practical.

Employs the least toxic materials and least ecologically-disruptive tactics when reactive (control) measures are needed to deal with an outbreak.

Note that the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) requires certified organic growers to take this approach to pest management and to document both preventive and control measures and their rationale. Some cultural practices that have been validated through extensive research, and that more and more farmers are adopting as part of their IPM programs, include:

Designing more diverse and optimally functioning crop rotations that reduce habitat for major pests and increase habitat for their natural enemies.

Farmscaping—border plantings of diverse flowering plants that provide habitat for predators and parasites of pests.

Maintaining healthy, biologically active soils (belowground biodiversity)

Planting locally adapted, pest resistant crop cultivars.

Optimizing nutrients, moisture, planting dates, and patterns for crop vigor.

The biointensive IPM practitioner is both a perpetual student and a “doctor” of the entire farm ecosystem, not just the crop or its immediate pests. Because of the great complexity and constantly changing nature of ecosystems, the farmer must continually observe populations and interactions, and the results of preventive and control measures taken. Good records help in the ongoing process of adapting and fine-tuning the biointensive management system. Finally, biointensive IPM is inherently site specific in that it must be adapted to each farm based on its soil types, climate, crop and livestock mix, other organisms (pests, weeds, beneficial, native vegetation, wildlife, etc.), available equipment and resources, and business/marketing plan.


Managing Pesticide Resistance

Though it has been over 80 years since the first discovery of a major agricultural pest becoming resistant to a pesticide, it was not until the 1950s that most growers became familiar with pesticide resistance as a result of the widespread development of insect resistance to DDT. Since then, growers have come to expect the eventual loss of pesticide effectiveness because of resistance. By the mid-1980s, there were records of about 450 resistant species of insects and mites. Other sources estimate the number of resistant pests to currently be around 1000 species. Pesticide resistance is increasing. Farmers in the USA lost 7% of their crops to pests in the 1940s; over the 1980s and 1990s, the loss was 13%, even though more pesticides were being used.

What is resistance to pesticides?

It is essential to distinguish between two common but very different contexts in which the word "resistance" is used. Specifically, it is important to understand how resistance is defined in the scientific context versus how it is manifest in the field.

Resistance as defined in the laboratory:

Resistance, from the scientific perspective, is a heritable, statistically defined decrease in sensitivity to a chemical in a pest population relative to the response of susceptible populations that have never been exposed to pesticides. Resistance can be demonstrated by comparing, in laboratory tests, differences in susceptibility between a susceptible population and a population that can withstand to some degree the effects of a pesticide.

Evidence of resistance in the laboratory does not necessarily mean that a chemical will fail in the field. Pesticide effectiveness is influenced by several factors, and resistant pests may or may not be adequately controlled by the insecticide given a set of treatment conditions (rate, volume, coverage, etc.). However, the fact remains that resistant pests can be demonstrated to defeat the toxic action of a pesticide to a greater degree than susceptible pests.

Resistance as manifested in the field:

Resistance that is manifest in the field results in measurable reductions in the relative efficacy of a pesticide. Estimating the impact of this reduction of control is an important step in managing resistance. To do this, conventional spray trials are replicated, with the same application equipment and conditions used by growers, at field locations with different levels of resistance.

When resistance reduces the relative efficacy of a pesticide, the chemical will provide significantly less control of the pest at locations with higher frequencies of resistance than at locations with lower frequencies or no resistance. Because field trials usually do not reveal the development of resistance in its early stages, by the time field personnel notice that pesticide performance is declining, resistance often has built up to fairly high frequencies in populations. It is for this reason that information from laboratory tests, rather than field experience, must be used for early detection of resistance.

Loss of relative efficacy of a chemical is not necessarily proof of resistance. For example, some instances of poor pesticide performance, initially attributed to pest resistance, have proved to be caused by a breakdown of the pesticide by soil microorganisms or high pH of spray water or by poor pesticide application procedures.

Mechanisms of Resistance:

There are two common mechanisms by which insects and mites overcome the toxic action of pesticides, increased metabolic detoxication and decreased target site sensitivity. Resistant pests with enhanced metabolic detoxication are able to disarm toxic pesticide molecules more rapidly than susceptible individuals. As a result, less of the active pesticide sprayed on the field reaches the target site in the pest.

With the second common mechanism, decreased target site sensitivity, the physiological target for the pesticide in the resistant insect is less sensitive to poisoning than in susceptible individuals. For example, organophosphate insecticides kill pests by inhibiting acetyl cholinesterase, an enzyme that is important in nerve function. Some insects, mites, and ticks resistant to organophosphates have a form of the target enzyme that is less sensitive to poisoning.

Resistance also can be enhanced by reduced cuticular penetration of the pesticide, though this appears to be a less common mechanism than those above. Reduced penetration alone generally results in only low intensities of resistance, but when combined with increased metabolic detoxication or decreased target site sensitivity it can result in very intense resistances. A little-studied but potentially important resistance mechanism involves changes in pests' behavior. It is likely that some behavioral resistances enable pests to reduce contact with pesticides on treated plants.

How Resistance Develops:

Resistance develops via the process of selection by a chemical on the genetic variation in susceptibility within a pest population. How selection happens is easy to understand. At first, only a very small proportion of a pest population can survive exposure to the pesticide, but each time the pesticide is applied, a greater proportion of resistant individuals survive than susceptible types. These resistant individuals pass the genes for pesticide resistance to their progeny. Each use of the pesticide increases the proportion of the less-susceptible individuals in the population.

The degree to which resistance reduces the relative efficacy of a pesticide depends on both the frequency and the intensity of the resistance. Frequency refers to the proportion of the pest population that is resistant ; intensity is the strength of the resistance in each resistant pest. Obviously, resistance is more likely to become a problem as the frequency of resistant individuals increases in a population. But the intensity of a resistance can also affect the pesticide’s efficacy in the field. In some cases, control of the resistant pest is only slightly affected by resistance. In other cases, the pest becomes virtually immune to the pesticide.

A pest population may have a resistance of low intensity at a high frequency (proportion of the population) without significantly affecting field performance of the pesticide. On the other hand, a very intense resistance might reduce the efficacy of a chemical, even when present a low frequencies in a pest population.

Cross resistance and multiple resistance:

In nearly half the recorded cases of resistant insects and mites, the pests are resistant to between two and five different classes of chemicals. Pests that are resistant to many pesticides pose an especially difficult problem when chemical control is required. Understanding the distinction between multiple resistance and cross resistance is important in order to grasp the practical ramifications of pests having more than one resistance factor.



Managing Pesticide Resistance (continued)

Cross resistance:

Many resistances are conferred by a single major genetic factor that differs between resistant and susceptible pests. When a single factor confers resistance to more than one pesticide, this is cross resistance. For example, a mechanism making insects resistant to parathion also dramatically reduces susceptibility to a number of other organophosphates. Therefore, when parathion becomes ineffective due to resistance, some other organophosphates also lose efficacy because of cross resistance. The key point is that with cross resistance a single mechanism is responsible for resistance to more than one pesticide, and cross resistance can cause resistance to build up to pesticides that you may never have used. Cross resistance also means that other classes of pesticides, e.g. organophosphates and carbamates, would be less effective where resistance occurs to either.

Multiple Resistance:

With multiple resistances, two resistance mechanisms are acquired independently through exposure to two different pesticides. For example, some spider mites possess resistance to cyhexatin (Plictran) and dicofol (Kelthane). However, these resistances are acquired by two separate genetic modifications, and resistance of the pest to one product does not affect susceptibility to the other. When a pest is resistant to two pesticides the only way to find out if it is due to cross resistance or multiple resistance is by conducting genetic studies in the laboratory.

Resistance stability:

Resistances can be either stable or unstable in the field, depending upon many factors involving the pest, the chemical, and the agricultural system used. A stable resistance increases in frequency when a pesticide is used and does not decline appreciably thereafter. An unstable resistance similarly increases in response to pesticide treatments but decreases in frequency during intervals when the pesticide is no longer used.

The phenomenon of unstable resistance can be exploited to manage resistance. Under a given set of circumstances, research can be conducted to estimate the length of time needed for the frequency of resistant pests to be reset, i.e., to decline to levels existing before the last treatment was applied. Then a resistance management program can be developed that employs pesticide rotations that allow for this resetting of resistance. The shortest interval in which the same chemical can be used and still allow resistance frequencies to reset is called the minimum reset interval. If treatments are spaced at less than the reset interval, the resistance increases in a stair-step fashion, but if the interval between treatments is as long or longer than the reset interval, there will be no net increase in resistance.

Reset intervals will vary between crops and geographic locations. Once an appropriate reset interval has been established for a system, appropriately selected pesticides can be used in rotation to maintain their efficacy and resistance can be monitored to evaluate the success of the program.

Factors influencing resistance:

Researchers have shown that resistance development in pest populations is influenced by many biological, ecological, genetic, and operational factors.

Biological and ecological factors include:

Characteristics of the pest, such as the rate of reproduction, the number of generations per year and mobility of the species.

Characteristics of the orchard, such as proximity to untreated areas, suitability of alternate hosts for pest development, immigration of susceptible pests and effectiveness of biological control.

Genetic factors include:

The number of genes conferring resistance.

The frequency and intensity of resistance genes in the population.

The ability of resistant individuals to grow and reproduce relative to susceptible pests.

Operational factors include:

Characteristics of the chemical.

Treatment thresholds.

Application methodology and equipment.

Chemical use strategies such as chemical rotations or mixtures.

In practice, many of these factors are not readily manipulated by growers. From the practical standpoint, growers wishing to manage resistance should give attention to the following factors:

How effectively you employ methods of integrated pest management.

How often you use pesticides.

How you select and apply the pesticides you use.

Growers who use pesticides the least have the most effective resistance management programs. Resistance cannot be managed in situations where a pesticide is used many times each season

Chemical use strategies for resistance management:

Since selection and use of pesticides are variables that growers can normally manipulate, identifying optimal chemical use recommendations is a critical step in building a resistance management program. Chemical use recommendations are based on one of three different strategies:

Management by moderation.

Management by multiple attack.

Management by saturation.

Management by moderation is probably the most universal principle for successfully managing resistance. It involves reducing overall chemical use or persistence by:

Using lower dosages of pesticides (when appropriate);

Using higher treatment thresholds;

Using chemicals with shorter residual activity;

Treating only limited areas in orchards and gardens;

Maintaining unsprayed areas as refuges for susceptible individuals; and

Spraying only specific pest stages.
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Managing Pesticide Resistance (continued)

Many of these approaches are already common components of IPM programs. Practices that protect and promote natural enemies contribute to resistance management since they reduce pesticide use. In addition, natural enemies consume resistant and susceptible individuals indiscriminately, thus helping counteract pesticide selection.

Management by multiple attack involves using either mixtures or rotations of pesticides to thwart resistance. Use of mixtures, for example tank mixes of two or more pesticides, is based on the concept that insects resistant to one pesticide will be killed by the other component(s) of the mixture and that few pests will be resistant to the entire mixture.

Though mixtures of fungicides have been used for years to combat resistance, both field experience and models have shown that mixtures should be avoided whenever possible with insects and spider mites. Commonly, use of mixtures of insecticides or acaricides has resulted in pest populations developing high frequencies of resistance to all pesticides in the mixture, an outcome with disastrous consequences for IPM programs. By far the safest approach is to rotate insecticides or acaricides so that each product is used as seldom as possible in any given season.

Management by saturation involves methods that overcome resistance mechanisms present in pests. The most common method is to combat resistance by using high rates of pesticides, ones that kill even resistant individuals. Deceptively reasonable on first inspection, this approach rarely works in practice. The reason is that pesticide residues are usually deposited very unevenly in most field situations, even when very high rates are used. Uneven deposition of pesticides allows resistant pests to survive in greater proportions than susceptible pests, thereby increasing resistance. In addition, use of high rates can have many detrimental impacts on natural enemies, the environment, and human health.

A completely different application of the management by saturation concept involves using chemical synergists, products that enhance the action of pesticides. Some synergists have been used successfully to neutralize metabolic pathways conferring resistance.

Proactive versus reactive resistance management:

In the past, resistance studies typically have been undertaken or supported by chemical manufacturers only after a pesticide has been used for many years and failures of the product in the field have become commonplace. This is reactive resistance management. Resistance is known or strongly suspected because of repeated reports of product failure, and the initial research objectives are to develop ways to monitor resistance, assess its intensity and frequency in field populations, and characterize the biochemical mechanism of resistance. Thereafter, field studies focus on understanding how quickly resistance builds up following chemical treatment and how fast, if at all, it declines in the absence of the pesticide.

In recent years, progressive chemical manufacturers have not waited until their products have failed before initiating resistance management efforts. Some producers are now addressing management of resistance from the very early stages of product development. They are collecting baseline susceptibility information from populations collected from around the world, looking for potential resistance problems, and proposing provisional resistance management strategies for their products early in the process of development. These proactive resistance management efforts reflect an overall increase in the sophistication of the chemical industry's resistance management efforts and are likely to prove very beneficial.

Resistance management as a component of IPM:

Pesticide resistance management will extend the useful life of valuable IPM-compatible pesticides. Yet, resistance management is likely to be successful only where orchardists:

Routinely monitor pests;

Use reasonable treatment thresholds; and

Make full use of nonpesticidal methods, such as biological and cultural control, sanitation and host plant resistance.

For well developed IPM systems, like those of Pacific Northwest tree fruit, researchers have made considerable progress toward putting in place the essential components of resistance management programs. For example, the efficacy of acaricides for mite control in the Pacific Northwest has been sustained for long periods of time where they were used as part of IPM programs.

The lack of registration of new pesticides, coupled with a loss of registered pesticides to the regulatory process or to resistance, will leave growers with few or no registered products that adequately control key pests. It is unrealistic to believe that we can successfully manage resistance if pesticides are not used sparingly. Experience from the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere demonstrates that with good IPM practices, the efficacy of key pesticides can be prolonged considerably and, in some cases, maintained indefinitely.

Examples of Pest Resistance:

Resistance has evolved in multiple species: Resistance to insecticides was first documented by A. L. Melander in 1914 when scale insects demonstrated resistance to an inorganic insecticide. Between 1914 and 1946, 11 additional cases were recorded. The development of organic insecticides, such as DDT, gave hope that insecticide resistance was a dead issue. However, by 1947 housefly resistance to DDT had evolved. With the introduction of every new insecticide class – cyclodienes, carbamates, formamidines, organophosphates, pyrethroids, even Bacillus thuringiensis – cases of resistance surfaced within two to 20 years.

In the US, studies have shown that fruit flies that infest orange groves were becoming resistant to malathion.

In Hawaii, Japan and Tennessee, the diamondback moth evolved a resistance to Bacillus thuringiensis about three years after it began to be used heavily.

In England, rats in certain areas have evolved resistance that allows them to consume up to five times as much rat poison as normal rats without dying.

DDT is no longer effective in preventing malaria in some places.

In the southern United States, Amaranthus palmeri, which interferes with cotton production, has evolved resistance to the herbicide glyphosate.

The Colorado potato beetle has evolved resistance to 52 different compounds belonging to all major insecticide classes. Resistance levels vary across populations and between beetle life stages, but in some cases can be very high (up to 2,000-fold).

Glyphosate (Round-Up) Resistance:

Glyphosate-resistant weeds are now present in the vast majority of soybean, cotton, and corn farms in some U.S. states. Multiply-resistant weeds are also on the rise. Until glyphosate most herbicides could not kill all weeds, forcing farmers to continually rotate their crops and herbicides to prevent resistance. Glyphosate disrupts the ability of most plants to construct new proteins. Glyphosate-tolerant transgenic crops are not affected.

A weed family that includes water hemp (Amaranthus rudis) has developed glyphosate-resistant strains. A 2008 to 2009 survey of 144 populations of water hemp in 41 Missouri counties revealed glyphosate resistance in 69%. Weed surveys from some 500 sites throughout Iowa in 2011 and 2012 revealed glyphosate resistance in approximately 64% of water hemp samples.

In response to the rise in glyphosate resistance, farmers turned to other herbicides—applying several in a single season. In the United States, most Midwestern and southern farmers continue to use glyphosate because it still kills most weed species, applying other herbicides, known as residuals, to deal with resistance.

The use of multiple herbicides appears to have slowed the spread of glyphosate resistance. From 2005 through 2010 researchers discovered 13 different weed species that had developed resistance to glyphosate. From 2010-2014 only two more were discovered.

A 2013 Missouri survey showed that multiply-resistant weeds had spread. 43% of the sampled weed populations were resistant to two different herbicides, 6% to three and 0.5% to four. In Iowa a survey revealed dual resistance in 89% of water hemp populations, 25% resistant to three and 10% resistant to five.

Resistance increases pesticide costs. For southern cotton, herbicide costs climbed from between $50 and $75 per hectare a few years ago to about $370 per hectare in 2014. In the South resistance contributed to the shift that reduced cotton planting by 70% in Arkansas and 60% in Tennessee. For soybeans in Illinois costs rose from about $25 to $160 per hectare.

Adaptations of Pests:

Pests become resistant by evolving physiological changes that protect them from chemicals. One protection mechanism is to increase the number of copies of a gene, allowing the organism to produce more of a protective enzyme that breaks the pesticide into less toxic chemicals. Such enzymes include esterases, glutathione transferases, and mixed microsomal oxidases.

Alternatively, the number and/or sensitivity of biochemical receptors that bind to the pesticide may be reduced. Behavioral resistance has been described for some chemicals. For example, some Anopheles mosquitoes evolved a preference for resting outside that kept them away from pesticide sprayed on interior walls. Resistance may involve rapid excretion of toxins, secretion of them within the body away from vulnerable tissues and decreased penetration through the body wall.

Mutation in only a single gene can lead to the evolution of a resistant organism. In other cases, multiple genes are involved. Resistant genes are usually autosomal. This means that they are located on autosomes (as opposed to chromosomes). As a result, resistance is inherited similarly in males and females. Also, resistance is usually inherited as an incompletely dominant trait. When a resistant individual mates with a susceptible individual, their progeny generally has a level of resistance intermediate between the parents.

Adaptation to pesticides comes with an evolutionary cost, usually decreasing relative fitness of organisms in the absence of pesticides. Resistant individuals often have reduced reproductive output, life expectancy, mobility, etc. Non-resistant individuals grow in frequency in the absence of pesticides, offering one way to combat resistance.
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Protective Clothing for Pesticide Users

Simply understanding the hazard of the pesticide you are using is not enough. To keep yourself safe, you also must sure to properly use all the recommended protective equipment.

Pesticide absorption through the skin is the most common cause of poisoning during mixing, loading, application, and equipment maintenance. You can keep skin exposure to a minimum by wearing -over your normal work clothes - a long-sleeved protective suit, such as coveralls. It should cover your entire body except feet, hands, and head. If there is a chance that the coveralls may become wet from mist, spray, splashes, or spills, use a rubber apron or other outer garment that is resistant to chemicals.

Natural or synthetic rubber, vinyl, or plastic gloves are a very important way to keep pesticides away from your skin. Wearing gloves should be a standard practice when handling pesticides. Replace protective gloves often, even though they may not seem worn or contaminated. Never use leather, paper, or fabric gloves when working with pesticides. These materials easily absorb and hold liquids and dusts, and can become a serious source of exposure. Disposable gloves are appropriate if they' can resist chemical penetration and a: sturdy enough to resist puncturing or tearing during the period of use.

Wear chemical-resistant boots or footwear during most mixing, loading, and application jobs. Never wear leather or canvas shoes.

It is also important to protect your eyes from pesticides. Use a face shield or goggles when you are using pressurized equipment or liquid concentrates; where there is a chance for mists, dusts, or splashes; and when the label tells you to prevent eye exposure.

Breathing the pesticide into your lungs (inhalation exposure) may be a problem where dusts, fine spray mists, smoke, fog, or vapors are generated. Since an inhaled pesticide is rapidly and almost completely absorbed by the body, you must protect yourself from this kind of exposure.

You should consider wearing a respirator during mixing and loading or during long periods of exposure to highly toxic pesticides which create fine dusts or mists. Sometimes the label lists a specific type of respirator to use. Often, however, the label merely requires a respirator approved for pesticide use by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health NIOSH) and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). To choose the right respirator, you must seek advice from your county Extension agent, pesticide dealer, or other experts.

The two most common types of air- purifying respirators are mechanical filter respirators and chemical cartridges or canisters. You should understand the differences between them:

Mechanical filter respirators provide protection only against dusts.

Chemical cartridge or canister respirators provide protection only against gases and vapors.

In addition, you can get a combination respirator which will protect you against both dusts and gases.

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Pesticides and Profits

From the Pesticide Action Network (PAN)

Six multinational companies dominate the agricultural input market, and they’re in cahoots. When a handful of corporations own the world’s seed, pesticide and biotech industries, they control the fate of food and farming. Between them, Monsanto, Dow, BASF, Bayer, Syngenta and DuPont control the global seed, pesticide and agricultural biotechnology markets. This kind of historically unprecedented power over world agriculture enables them to:

Control the agricultural research agenda;

Dictate trade agreements & agricultural policies;

Position their technologies as the “science-based” solution to increase crop yields, feed the hungry and save the planet;

Escape democratic & regulatory controls;

Subvert competitive markets;

Intimidate, impoverish and disempower farmers, undermine food security and make historic profits - even in the midst of a global food crisis.

"What you are seeing is not just a consolidation of seed companies, it’s really a consolidation of the entire food chain" —Robert Fraley, co-president of Monsanto's agricultural sector

According to the UN, corporate concentration of the agricultural input market “has far-reaching implications for global food security, as the privatization and patenting of agricultural innovation (gene traits, transformation technologies and seed germplasm) has been supplanting traditional agricultural understandings of seed, farmers' rights, and breeders' rights.

Examples of Cartel Agreements:

Monsanto & BASF announce a $1.5 billion R&D collaboration involving 60/40 profit-sharing. (March 2007)

Monsanto & Dow Agrichemicals join forces to develop the first-ever GE maize loaded with 8 genetic traits, for release in 2010. (Sept. 2007)

Monsanto & Syngenta call a truce on outstanding litigation related to global maize & soybean interests, forge new cross-licensing agreements. (May 2008)

Syngenta & DuPont announce a joint agreement, broadening each company's pesticide product portfolios (June 2008)

Source: ETC report, “Who Owns Nature?"

Through a mix of tactics outlined above, the agricultural input sector has become one of the most highly consolidated, integrated and collusive in the world.

Unprecedented Market Consolidation:

Although multinational corporations have been in food and farming for decades, only over the last 10 – 20 years have they achieved today’s levels of consolidation and control.

Since the 1990s, the Big 6 have been on a spending spree, buying up the three key segments of the agriculture industry (pesticides, seeds, and biotech) to assemble proprietary lines of chemicals, seeds, and genetic traits that are engineered to go together.

Cooperative strategies and collusive practices between the few major competitors, notably through the establishment of elaborate cross-licensing structures.

Vertical integration upward along the food chain, with the establishment of food chain clusters that combine agricultural inputs with the grain handlers' extensive processing and marketing facilities.

Market share2

Corporate Science:

Since the mass introduction of pesticides into food & agriculture following WWII, control over the knowledge needed to grow food has been shifting from farmers to the laboratories of multinational corporations. As a result, scientific research that benefits corporate profit, rather than the public good, has become the norm.

The importance of science for the public good is difficult to overstate - especially when it comes to feeding our world. When a democracy loses the capacity to transparently research and understand complex problems and solutions, the ability to make sound policy decisions and chart a future for the health and security of a nation is under threat.

Instead of asking, “How can we efficiently grow the most nutritious tomato in a sustainable way?” we ask, “How can we genetically modify a seed that tolerates large doses of my company’s flagship pesticide product?” Unfortunately, it is impossible to verify that genetically modified crops perform as advertised. That is because agritech companies have given themselves veto power over the work of independent researchers.

Privatizing our Public Universities:

Land grant universities were established in the late 1800s by Congress to study agriculture, and for 150 years they supported ground-breaking research. In recent decades 3 developments have undercut our public research system, with particularly devastating effects on food & farming research:

Systematic funding cuts to public educational institutions;

Heavy private investment in universities & in a satellite ring of contract research organizations by companies like Monsanto, Cargill & Dow;

Changes in U.S. law which allow the patenting of life & privatization of publicly funded research.

The 1980 Bayh-Dole Act joined a series of shifts in patent law in the 1980s to privatize domains previously held in public trust for millennia: seeds and genes. As a result, our capacity for research that safeguards and supports the long-term prosperity of food and agriculture for the public good is on the verge of extinction. When the research agenda is dictated by a handful of pesticide and seed corporations, the scope narrows to include only those technologies which can be patented and profitably brought to market. Alternatives are simply not considered, let alone developed. Entire fields of practice and inquiry - like agroecology - are marginalized.

Science Suppressed & Ignored:

Perhaps nowhere are the risks of this situation more evident than the corporate push for genetically modified (GM) crops. Scientists often shy away from making political statements, but in 2009, scientists from 15+ states told EPA that companies like Monsanto that produce GM seed “inhibit public scientists from pursuing their mandated role on behalf of the public good,” and warned that corporate influence had made independent science on GM technologies impossible.

In 2007, EPA approved an extraordinarily toxic new fumigant pesticide, methyl iodide, over the objections of 50+ scientists (including 6 Nobel Laureates). The battle then moved to California, where an independent Scientific Review Panel was convened to evaluate the chemical for the state. The panel found that methyl iodide will be "difficult, if not impossible, to control" as an agricultural pesticide, and it's lead scientist called methyl iodide "Without question, one of the most toxic chemicals on earth." California's Department of Pesticide Regulation proposed approval anyway. Both regulatory agencies faced intense lobbying pressure from industry to approve methyl iodide.

In 2008, the UN- and World Bank-sponsored International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Technology and Development (IAASTD) issued it's findings after 4 years of analysis. 400+ scientists and development experts joined industry and civil society from more than 80 countries in conducting what was and is the most comprehensive analysis of world agriculture to date. Their key finding: "business as usual is not an option" for world agriculture; we should invest in small-scale, agroecological farming if we want to actually feed the world.

In the assessment's final days, as it became clear that corporate-controlled technologies like agricultural biotech were not to be recommended, industry walked out in a huff. The agbiotech industry subsequently attacked and then attempted to bury the IAASTD. In the U.S., they have been largely successful.

Undue Influence:

Much as the chemical industry complains about regulation, the regulatory process in the U.S. is largely captured by corporate interests. Corporations wield unmatched money and influence, and regulatory agencies rely on industry-funded studies, antiquated legal frameworks and inadequate enforcement tools.
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The Revolving Door:

Corporations use every trick in the book to sway regulators and legislators, but the most effective may be the "revolving door." Many of the agrichemical industry's former executives, lawyers and scientists serve in the government agencies that are charged with keeping watch over their industries. For example:

Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court Justice & former Monsanto lawyer who did not recuse himself in a recent case involving his former employer.

Islam Siddiqui, former pesticide lobbyist for CropLife America, currently the lead Agricultural Negotiator for the U.S. Office of Trade - despite record opposition to his appointment.

Roger Beachy, founding president of the Danforth Plant Science center (Monsanto's de facto nonprofit research arm), currently heads the USDA's National Institute for Food & Agriculture.

Michael Taylor, former Monsanto lawyer & Vice President for Public Policy, currently serving as the Deputy Comissioner for Foods at the FDA. Taylor is famous for having engineered the U.S. government's favorable agricultural biotechnology policies during the Clinton administration.

Elin Miller, former heard of Arysta's North American division, installed by George W. Bush as head of EPA's Region 9 Office. Arysta is the largest private pesticide company in the world, and sole producer of methyl iodide.

Ramona Romero, former corporate counsel for DuPont, appointed in 2010 to serve as general counsel for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


The agricultural input industry maintains an army of lobbyists in Washington DC, state capitals and countries worldwide to protect their interests. As a special interest lobbying bloc, agribusiness spends over $100 million a year lobbying Congress. They wield influence in an array of areas, from anti-trust, patent and tort law, to labeling, food safety, insurance industry and financial services regulation.

The American Farm Bureau Federation, one of the most powerful interest groups in Washington, claims to be the "voice of farmers." In fact, they lobby for corporate agribusiness and speak on behalf of a membership base comprised not of farmers, but of insurance industry affiliates. In 2009 alone, the agricultural input industry spent $35 million. Monsanto and Biotechnology Industry Organization, spent over $15 million combined.

In 2003, while atrazine was being reviewed by U.S. EPA, Syngenta lobbyists participated in over 50 closed-door meetings with EPA regulators. No other scientists or stakeholders were invited, the meetings were not publicly announced, and documents about the meetings were only made public by the agency after a lawsuit was filed. Atrazine was subsequently reapproved in the U.S. on the basis of the same science that convinced the European Union to ban the chemical.

Morton Grove pharmaceuticals, which markets the pesticide lindane, organized a campaign to oppose a Michigan bill to restrict the chemical's use. Following on a successful prior campaign to defeat similar legislation in New York State, Morton Grove sent former U.S. Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders to meet with legislators in both Michigan and New York to plead the company's case.

Gaming the Regulatory System:

Regulatory agencies don't have money to run scientific analysis. This leaves them, and the public whose interests they are charged with protecting, at the mercy of corporate science. Some examples of how this arrangement works in practice:

Confidentiality claims: Most safety studies conducted by pesticide companies are shielded from public scrutiny by claims of "Confidential Business Information." These studies are never published in the peer reviewed scientific literature, nor made otherwise available for review by independent scientists.

Funding faulty science: When independent scientists discovered that atrazine "chemically castrates" male frogs, the company that makes atrazine, Syngenta, paid for a review of the ecotoxicity of the herbicide that concluded atrazine didn't affect fish, amphibians, or aquatic reptiles. Independent scientists subsquently reviewed Syngenta's review and found it riddled with inaccuracies and systematically biased.

Cherry-picking data: When multiple studies are available, corporations promote the one most favorable to their interests as the definitive study. For example, endosulfan manufactures convinced EPA to use an old rat toxicity study as the basis of its dietary risk assessment, even though newer study in rabbits showed acute toxicity at lower levels. Using the new study would have shown unacceptably high dietary risks to children.

Benefits analysis: Under FIFRA, the law regulating pesticide use, EPA is supposed to weigh the benefits of using a pesticide against the risks. To assess benefits, the Agency simply asks pesticide companies and grower groups whether alternatives are available and how much they cost. The EPA has no money or authority to research alternatives, and no way to verify the information volunteered by the ag industry.

Delay tactics & extended timelines: While EPA has the authority to ban or restrict dangerous pesticides, in practice they are reluctant to exercise it. This is because under FIFRA, pesticide manufacturers are afforded so many opportunities to appeal and object to the Agency's decisions, that they can grind EPA action to a halt. Carbofuran is one example: In 2006 EPA, decided — after a multiyear process — that the insecticide was too dangerous and would be banned. FMC, carbofuran's U.S. manufacturer, has fought the Agency's decision, and as of 2010 it remains on the market, with no end in sight. So rather than take unilateral action on problem pesticides, EPA prefers to negotiate phaseouts and use restriction with the manufactures. While quicker and cheaper than prolonged litigation, this strategy still results in shamefully long timelines for phasing out toxic pesticides, like the 6-year phaseout negotiated for endosulfan, or the 8 years for aldicarb (the pesticide responsible for the worst pesticide poisoning case in U.S. history.)

Corporations also unduly influence government science by funding institutions and planting individual researchers. Dow Chemical presents a typical case: in 1995 they loaned a staff scientist to the U.S. House Commerce Committee to "assist" with changes to environmental, health and safety protections and gave $100,000 in grants to members of the scientific advisory board reevaluating the toxicity of dioxin.

Farm to Fork:

The growing distance from "farm to fork" is usually talked about in terms of food miles: the distance food travels to arrive on one's plate. But the energy expended in transporting lettuce from California to New York, while easy to understand, does not get to either the environmental or the economic heart of the matter.

The distance from farm to fork that sustainable agriculture advocates and "locavores" of various stripes talk about — and seek to reduce — reflects much more than travel miles. The farther our food travels, the less control we have over that food—how it was raised, how the land was treated, what sort of living the farmer made. Closing the gap means ensuring, among other things:

Fair prices for farmers;

The survival of family farms;

Food safety & security;

Cutting corporate welfare.

In other words, what happens between the farm and your fork is what links us to the land, to each other, and to a shared idea of what American agriculture stands for. Across this one "in between" stretches an every-day test of what we value.

Price Spread: Farmgate to Retail:

The farm share of food dollars has declined continuously since the USDA started tracking these figures in 1950 — from 44% to 19%. This trend holds globally: according to the United Nations, the gap between world market prices (charged by traders) and domestic prices (paid to farmers) doubled between 1974 and 1994. Today, over 90% of U.S. farmers are forced to rely on off-farm income. In 1930 that number was 30%, in 1970, 54%. Price spreads are spreading, and farming is becoming less profitable for farmers as a result.

Yet consumers are not seeing lower prices at the grocery store. Because industrial food and farming is so consolidated, agribusiness conglomerates like Cargill, Monsanto, and Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) set prices at both ends of the food chain, cheating farmers and consumers alike.

When a few big buyers have such a tight hold over the market, farmers have no option but to follow their instructions – or lose their sales. In many cases, farmers not only surrender the right to make basic decisions about how their farm is run, they do not even own their own livestock and produce. They simply perform the “service” of rearing livestock and growing crops for agribusiness giants that own the assets and dictate the terms of service – and the price.

These corporations take home tens of billions of dollars in profits each year, further consolidating their control over what happens from farm to fork. In the end, farmers & ranchers receive only 20 cents of every dollar spent on food.

Food Safety Risks:

Most of our meat supply is controlled by four — soon to be three — companies: Tyson, Cargill, Smithfield, and JBS (which is vying for a Smithfield takeover). Cargill and two other companies process more than 70% of U.S. soybeans. And most of our corn — a staple in livestock feed and present in virtually all processed food — is grown from seed developed by one of two companies.

When so few companies control so much of what happens between farm and fork, food safety and consumer choice are compromised. Salmonella and E. coli outbreaks become more likely because of the factory conditions instituted as agribusiness conglomerates seek to leverage economies of scale, and because when an outbreak does happen, it gets rapidly disbursed as centralized processing plants act like hubs in the global food system.

If agribusiness conglomerates choose to raise meat using hormones and antibiotics, or grow corn from genetically-modified seed, then that is what's available to the majority of consumers who don't have access to a local or regional food system.

Corporate Welfare:

The risks of farming (weather, blights, market volatility) and the vital need for a stable food supply mean that farmers need a strong safety net. But supporting farmers as they produce food and steward our natural resources is not the same as subsidizing consistently profitable billion-dollar corporations. We call the latter corporate welfare.

According to the Cato Institute's, Archer Daniels Midland: A Case Study in Corporate Welfare:

“The Archer Daniels Midland Corporation (ADM) has been the most prominent recipient of corporate welfare in recent U.S. history… ADM has cost the American economy billions of dollars since 1980 and has indirectly cost Americans tens of billions of dollars in higher prices and higher taxes over that same period. At least 43% of ADM's annual profits are from products heavily subsidized or protected by the American government. Moreover, every $1 of profits earned by ADM's corn sweetener operation costs consumers $10, and every $1 of profits earned by its ethanol operation costs taxpayers $30.”

ADM’s CEO took home over $2 million just in bonus payments in 2009. Meanwhile, family farms failed and more people than ever before were unable to buy food as the ranks of the world's hungry passed one billion for the first time.

Siphoning public funds into the hands of a fortunate few is made possible by a set of misguided national policies and the unprecedented consolidation of the agribusiness sector. If we are to reduce the distance between farm and fork — and promote a measure of economic justice and environmental sustainability — corporate control over food and agriculture must be confronted directly, while we go about the daily work of rebuilding local and regional food systems that support sustainable, fair farming.


Having a better understanding of managing pests in a safe and effective manner without building resistance will benefit everyone in the cannabis industry. Over use and improper application of pesticides is a big problem and I hope the above information will help with that.


Blaze, nice write up. Thanks for the effort.

Interesting that there are no comments on this thread. I'd be curious to hear how many of us are using an integrated pest management strategy to grow our high value crop(s). Even more cool would be hearing from those who have adopted IPM what problems they encountered & overcame along the way and what results they've realized (are you applying less -icides now, are your plants happier and more productive, did you try IPM and found it not to be a good strategy for you, etc.).

For me, grokking IPM as a farming concept isn't difficult...use good growing practices, keep your plants healthy by giving them healthy soil and environmental factors, eyes on daily (or as close to that as possible), and respond to what you see (and know to be true) in the least-damaging way. However, and again in my experience, putting IPM into practice is like using another language: you're not 100% certain that what you're saying/doing makes a lick of sense, which isn't a comfortable place to be in...especially when some of the IPM controls you may be using as a preventative in low concentrations are, well, toxic, yet you're not responding to a "situation" (although you know it will be if you don't act now...yep, not comfortable at all!).

Fortunately, I have a coach/friend who is walking me through my "adoption period," and I think an IPM coach is an IPM concept that probably doesn't get enough attention. Not that you couldn't get there on your own (you can, so don't let not having a good coach keep you from extending your knowledge), but having a good coach (who you trust) will shorten that learning ramp. This is no different than learning to cut a dovetail joint...much easier to do if you've had someone, preferably a master, show you once...or twice (some things are harder than others...and some people require repeat applications).

Again, thanks for the write-up.


I want to bump this sticky. IPM is so important, and so often misunderstood. Anybody who grows cannabis should fully understand everything posted above.

-Use yellow sticky traps.
-Check plants often under the leaves and around the surface of the media.
-Check runoff.
-Know the differences between insect damage and nutrient/fungal issues.
-If you do find insects, properly ID them and only then determine based on their abundance whether or not any action needs to be taken.
-Use a quality intake filter
- never wear your shoes into the garden
-Be proactive about not getting pests to start with.

There is really only a few bugs that will wipe out a garden, but many are benign and many are beneficial. Some are just a nuisance.
Most importantly though, if you do have a pest that needs to be killed, use an appropriate pesticide that has a mode of action appropriate for the target pest. And use enough for a complete kill, dont half ass it. Leaving survivors is how superbugs are created. If you have to go to war, make damn sure you're gonna win.


Very high quality thread and levels of knowledge being shared in here.

Very grateful, thank you.
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