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Where to Get Started with Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

27 May 2024

This article is produced as a part of the FAS Crops & Soils Bulletin. Subscribe now to receive the full report in your inbox monthly.

IPM plans look at the farming practices which are currently being used and new practices which could be integrated into the system to help reduce the pressure of pests in an economical way. These changes could result in a reduction in Plant Protection Products (PPPs), but these products still remain a part of the plan.  With a drive to improve efficiency, being able to successfully implement, and make changes to develop, a successful IPM plan offers the potential to improve yields or reduce costs.    

If you’ve not done one before an Integrated Pest Management plan can seem like a daunting task, however, you may be pleasantly surprised that you are already carrying out some elements without even realising. Good farming practices which you have undertaken already can often be part of your IPM plan.  

Where to Start

If you are looking to start an IPM plan, the Plant Health Centre has a Scottish IPM Plan Assessment.  This is a simple to use great starting point which can help start you on your IPM journey.   

If you have already been carrying out IPM plans for a few years and would like to develop it further, the IPM Planning Tool offers the next stage, allowing you to further develop your plan.    

Things to Consider

Every farm has different challenges when thinking about IPM so a range of practices need to be considered to allow identification of improvements which can easily be made.    

  • Hygiene is an important part of IPM and many farmers are already thoroughly cleaning machinery between fields and jobs.  Ensuring contaminants are not carried across the farm on machinery is part of an IPM plan and is good practice.  
  • Consider your crop rotation - think about the length of the rotation, break crops and the green bridge.  
  • Consider sowing dates, an early or a delayed sowing date could be considered. Early sowing can result in increased pest tolerance, whilst delayed sowing may result in emergence after aphids have migrated.  
  • Cultivations methods have an impact. Mechanical cultivations can reduce soils pests like slugs and leatherjackets but will have an impact on carbon footprint and soil health.  Depending on the types of weeds on the farm, mechanical cultivations will have an impact on their prevalence. 

There are an array of practices which could be carried out. Some are free to do like winter stubble, whilst green manures or cover crops can have a cost but have an impact on pests and increase soil fertility.  

Remaining Adaptable

There is clearly no one size fits all answer to IPM. The decision is on what is best for the farm, landscape, challenges, practices and being adaptable to what is happening.    

Having an IPM plan can help your strategy on farm, but it does need to remain adaptable depending on what the year brings. We have come through a wet winter where some winter crops may not have gone in (some were pulled out) and there was a delay in sowing of spring crops. Each year will bring different conditions and challenges which then results changes to crop plans, cultivations and more. This includes having an adaptable IPM plan.  

If you would like to find out more, listen to the May Cropcast Episode where Amy Geddes and Phil Jarvis, both are part of the Voluntary Initiative, and talk about IPM. 

Tiffany Stephenson, SAC Consulting

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