IPM, or Integrated
Pest Management, is a program which entails using common sense and
good cultural practices in the maintenance of turf. The elements
of a successful IPM approach to turf management include:
of the source of any "problems"
of the life cycle of the problematic insect, disease or weed
of the tolerance level for a pest ( i.e., how many is too many?
How much damage to the turf is acceptable?)
scouting of the property to determine the pest population level
and whether or not the tolerance level is being exceeded
of whether or not pest control is necessary
and implementation of cultural techniques to manage the pest or
problem to the extent necessary
of pesticides which will minimize disruption to the environment
and potential exposures to applicators and others
of findings, intentions, actions to all parties involved
of action; did the course of action followed alleviate the problem?
the source of any "problems," the turf manager must be familiar
with the turf use, customer or client expectations and local conditions.
Many poor turf conditions are a result of agronomic imbalances or
improper cultural practices rather than pest activity. The turf
manager must be familiar with the specific site conditions. For
example: soil condition (is it compacted? does it drain well?);
irrigation (does the system provide even coverage? has there been
adequate rain or irrigation? Is too much water being applied?);
mowing patterns and height; turf type (is the species or cultivar
adapted to the site and to the use of the turf?); and use of the
turf (is it an ornamental front lawn? A heavily used municipal athletic
If the turf
is infested with an insect, disease or weed, the turf manager must
be knowledgeable about the life cycle of the pest. When is damage
most likely to occur? What is the most susceptible stage for control?
How much pest activity can be tolerated before action must be taken?
It is critical to set up a program in which a scout inspects the
turf regularly, watching for pest outbreaks or agronomic problems.
Once it becomes
apparent that a pest outbreak is likely to occur or that a tolerance
level for a pest is going to be exceeded, the turf manager must
look for control options. Sometimes cultural manipulations and controls
are sufficient. Raising the mowing height, for example, even for
a few weeks, can sometimes enable a turf to tolerate diseases or
prevent weed infestations. Fertility adjustments can sometimes stave
off damage from certain kinds of diseases.
There are several
biological control options available now for controlling insects.
Some of these alternatives (bacteria, nematodes and growth regulators,
for example) are applied through traditional sprayers and handled
like traditional insecticides although they behave differently.
A turf manager must know what to expect from these biological control
options and how to maximize their effectiveness in an IPM program.
pesticide might occasionally be necessary to control a pest whose
presence has developed beyond the tolerance level. If this happens,
a turf manager must be familiar with the pesticide options and,
if at all possible, use a material which will not interfere with
various environmental concerns. If the facility is near surface
water (lakes, ponds or streams), for example, or in sandy soil in
an area with a shallow water table, then mobile or more persistent
pesticides would be more "risky" to use than less mobile or less
persistent materials. Always read and follow the Environmental Concerns
and all other parts of the label.
is a crucial, and often overlooked, aspect of an IPM program. It
is very important to keep your clientele informed of your intentions.
Tell them what you found while you were out scouting and explain
what you think the options are and what implications of various
actions will be. Most people appreciate being kept informed and
will be impressed with your professionalism and commitment to the
Pest Management, or Intelligent Plant Management, can be considered
a form of stress management. Turf can handle one or two stresses
at a time, but it may not be able to handle three or four stresses
at once. Putting together a formal IPM program is a commitment but
is also, to a large degree, common sense. Most successful turf managers
are already practicing several key parts of IPM, but a little more
attention to detail (scouting, identifying options, keeping records
and evaluating results) will result in a successful turf IPM program.
from the University of Massachusetts Extension, 1999