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Integrated pest management methods

The widespread use of chemical plant protection products has made the impression that it is easy to control organisms harmful to plants and protect crops. However, the often unnecessary overuse of pesticides creates many problems, including:

  • pressure on the natural environment and limited biodiversity of agro-ecosystems;
  • emergence of organisms harmful to plants and resistant to pesticides;
  • contamination of agricultural products with pesticide residues at levels dangerous to consumer health.

The need to look for solutions that would provide sufficient crop protection against organisms harmful to plants, and ensure the profitability of agricultural production, while limiting the negative effects described above, has led to the development of principles of integrated pest management.

According to its definition, integrated pest management means careful consideration of all available (and particularly non-chemical) plant protection methods and the subsequent integration of appropriate measures that discourage the development of populations of pests and keep the use of plant protection products and other forms of intervention to levels that are economically and ecologically justified and reduce or minimize risks to human health and the environment.

Integrated pest management utilizes all available information about organisms harmful to plants (and in particular about their biology and the damage they cause) in order to determine the best times for pest control, and also uses the natural occurrence of beneficial organisms, such as predators and parasites of organisms harmful to plants, and their introduction. Thus, integrated pest management reduces the use of chemical plant protection products and the pressure on the natural environment, and protects the biodiversity of agricultural ecosystems.

Some of the key tools for integrated pest management are:

  • integrated methods for the protection of specific crops,
  • economic pathogen harmfulness thresholds - these thresholds reflect circumstances in which the use of chemical plant protection products becomes economically viable, i.e. the number of harmful organisms at which yield losses exceed the cost of chemical control,
  • decision support systems in plant protection - these systems rely on the knowledge of pest biology to indicate the best times for chemical plant protection treatments.

The obligation for all professional pesticide users to apply general integrated pest management principles from 1 January 2014 emanates from the provisions of Article 14 of Directive 2009/128/EC and Regulation 1107/2009. Pursuant to Article 55 of Regulation 1107/2009/EC, plant protection products shall be used properly. Proper use shall include the application of the provisions of Directive 2009/128/EC and, in particular, with general principles of integrated pest management, as referred to in Article 14 of and Annex III to that Directive, which shall apply at the latest by 1 January 2014. According to the general principles of integrated pest management referred to in Annex III to Directive 2009/128/EC:

1) sustainable biological, physical and other non-chemical methods must be preferred to chemical methods if they provide satisfactory pest control;

2) the prevention and/or suppression of pests should be achieved, among other options, especially by:

  •  crop rotation,
  •  using adequate cultivation techniques,
  •  using resistant/tolerant cultivars and standard/certified seed and planting material,
  •  using balanced fertilization, liming and irrigation/drainage practices,
  •  preventing the spread of harmful organisms,
  •  protecting and enhancing important beneficial organisms,
  •  using phytosanitary measures (e.g. regular cleansing of machinery and equipment) to prevent the spread of pests,
  •  and using pesticides at levels that do not increase the risk of the development of resistance in pest populations.

Based on the results of the monitoring, professional users need to decide whether and when to avail themselves of plant protection. Threshold values of economic harm are essential for such decisions. The pesticides applied need to be target the harmful organisms as precisely as possible. In addition, professional users should minimize pesticide use to the extent necessary, e.g. by reducing their quantities or application frequencies.

In Poland, the compliance of professional pesticide users with the general principles of integrated pest management is governed by the Act of 8 March 2013 on plant protection products (Official Journal, item 455, as amended) and Regulation of the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of 18 April 2013 on the requirements of integrated pest management (Official Journal, item 505).

Practical implementation of these laws is discussed in the section on integrated pest management methods. These are optional materials for professional users of plant protection products. The methods are available in a simplified version (for farmers) and a more detailed one (for advisors).

In addition to integrated pest management methods, we also present Methods for monitoring and reporting plant pests occurrence and Plant protection product application programs.

  • Platforma Sygnalizacji Agrofagów

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Instytut Ochrony Roślin - Państwowy Instytut Badawczy

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