Smith County Extension Agent
Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, is a strategy used to manage pests by using economically and environmentally sustainable practices. What is a pest to some may not be a pest to others.
The goal of IPM is not necessarily to eradicate or eliminate pests, but to strengthen and stabilize the ecosystem so that conditions are favorable for plants and unfavorable for the pest species. IPM uses controls such as biological, mechanical, cultural and chemical to reduce pest populations.
Biological controls include other insects called beneficial insects to control certain species of pests. Biological control uses predators, parasite and pathogens to reduce pest populations. Aphids, for example, are soft-bodied insects that can cause damage to vegetable and other landscape plants. Lady beetles or lady bugs are a beneficial insect that can consume a large number of aphids.
Mechanical control is similar to when we mow our lawns. When we mow our lawns, we reduce weed species along with our grass as it is cut down. If our lawn is healthy and has adequate nutrients, once the stand of grass grows back it can out compete our weed species. Grass burs or sandburs are one example of a weed that shows up in most cases due to infertility in the soil.
Cultural controls include crop rotation in vegetable gardens. Cover crops can help by reducing the number of nematodes in the soil and once turned under the cover crop can add some organic matter back into our soils.
Scouting or monitoring your landscape, trees and fields can help determine the number of pests present. Do not wait until the pests have totally damaged all or a great portion of the desired plant species before deciding what to do next. If caught early, various control methods may come into play. If caught late and the damage is done, control options will significantly be reduced to one option or even no option for control of the pest species.
The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service of Smith County will offer a Private Applicator Training and Testing in the Cotton Belt Building, at 1517 W. Front St., Suite 116, on Jan. 3. Study manuals are available for purchase at our office. These manuals are $40 and should be purchased ahead of the training. There will be a $10 course fee the day of the training. The training is required for the Private Applicator License. The Texas Department of Agriculture representative will be on site at the completion of the training to administer the exam. You may use a calculator on the exam and please bring a current color photo ID as well. When purchasing the manuals and/or the course fee, we accept cash or check only. You may call or stop by our office from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and we close noon to 1 p.m. for lunch.
Extension programs serve people of all ages regardless of socioeconomic level, race, color, sex, religion, disability or national origin.