Integrated Pest Management (IPM), is more than just an acronym to a crop consultant, it is a way of life.

If you were to look at my pickup during the summer time in search of IPM tools, you would fi nd a truck full of notebooks, notepads, binders filled with meeting notes, a computer, iPad, handheld PDA’s, insect ID guides, hand lenses, tape measurers, etc. The list goes on and on. But, the argument could be made that there are very few “IPM tools” in my truck. However, I would argue to the contrary that there are few items in my truck that are not used for IPM. See, I look at IPM more as a game plan than just a tool to kill an insect at any given point in time.

Several years ago, I made the switch from writing and delivering all my scouting reports to sending them electronically. This is a very important tool in my IPM approach, because it allows me to have quick access to the previous week’s scouting data as well as the field history from last year. I am able to track changes in pest levels very quickly and make decisions based on population dynamics. Furthermore, I can review pesticide history and make certain that recommendations involve rotating chemistries to prevent resistance. Therefore, my electronic devices play a very significant role in IPM.

Being involved in irrigated cotton production has taught me that IPM also involves fertility and water management to help prevent late regrowth in cotton. Such regrowth makes cotton plants more susceptible to insect pests late in the season.

Additionally, the proper use of plant growth regulators further aids in preventing regrowth. In cotton, we closely monitor plant growth through the height and track changes similar to pest levels and utilize plant growth regulators to keep them from becoming “too vegetative.” Soil moisture and fertility are closely monitored and weekly irrigation recommendations are made to help control plant growth while maintaining yield.

For consultants, we understand that taking an IPM approach not only means understanding what is going on in a particular field, but also understanding what is occurring in the area we work in as well as our state, region and country.

This perspective is important in developing a game plan for managing pests as well as making sure that we do our best to protect the environment and ensure the longevity of the pesticides we use, all the while ensuring our clients maintain and even increase their profitability through our services.

IPM is an approach that does not just have a goal for today’s problems but has a perspective of developing a plan for next year and on into the future five and 10 years later. All of the notebooks and notepads that I carry with me on a daily basis are filled with notes from meetings I have attended over the past 20 years. I rely on these notes to develop my IPM plan for my customers.

It is important that we as consultants communicate with the implementers of IPM what our game plan is so that everyone has a better understanding of each situation and the management plan being used.