Integrated pest management can be defined as using a combination of knowledge about pest life cycles and all available pest control methods to limit the number of pests in a way that's economical and environmentally-friendly.
Rather than being one way to manage pests, integrated pest management uses a combination of methods and systems that will look different for each individual. Every farmer and rancher will have to create their own plan that's suited to their unique situation.
How to Create An Integrated Pest Management Plan
Let's look into how you can create an integrated pest management plan for your farm or ranch. This will allow you to take full advantage of current and well-tested pest management methods to protect your produce and animals.
Before you create the plan, however, you need to consider the action threshold. After all, seeing one fly doesn't necessarily mean you have a problem which requires putting a full pest control and elimination plan in place.
Carefully consider how many pests are a problem and at what point these pests will begin to impact your business financially. That's when you'll want to put a full pet management plan into action.
Creating a plan takes three steps. Each of these may take some time, but doing things correctly from the beginning will help the implementation process run much more smoothly.
1. Pest Identification
The first thing you need to do is identify the pests you're dealing with. This is particularly important with insects because there are numerous beneficial bugs that require no pest control and that you actually want to have on your farm.
Another reason to properly identify pests is that you'll then want to study the lifecycle of that pest. This will help you know exactly what you need to do to effectively limit the number of these pests moving forward.
You can also choose the correct methods to prevent and control these pests without disrupting the beneficial organisms on your farm or putting your crops or livestock at risk.
2. Pest Prevention
We've all heard the old adage, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." When it comes to pest management, this couldn't be truer. The best thing you can do for your agriculture operation is to prevent pests from causing problems in the first place.
How you work to prevent pests will vary greatly depending on the type of pests you're dealing with, which is the main reason why proper identification matters so much.
Let's take a closer look at some of the pest prevention methods you can use in both plant and animal systems.
Breaking pest lifecycles is one of the easiest ways to prevent pests because you're preventing them from reproducing. This creates a long-term solution and pest numbers will naturally reduce over time.
One example of how ranchers can break the pest cycle to limit the impact of internal parasites is by rotating animals through different pastures. When chickens follow a few days behind cows, they eat the insect larvae found in the manure which prevents those parasites from maturing and reinfecting the cattle.
Similarly, crops can also be rotated to break pest cycles. When you plant the same crop in the same place year after year, it attracts pests that love that particular crop. However, when you plant something that pest hates or can't eat in the following season, they're going to have to move on or starve to death.
Two pests that are easy to prevent with this method are the western corn rootworm and the northern corn rootworm. They lay their eggs in the soil in fall and larvae hatch to feast on corn roots the following spring. However, if they find sorghum, small grains, weeds, or broadleaf crops upon hatching, the larvae will starve.
Crop rotation can also help you build up the soil naturally which can reduce the amount of work and money you have to put into fertilizing and improving your fields.
Create A Hostile Environment
For rodents and other larger pests, one of the best things you can do is create an environment in which they won't want to live or can't get into. If an animal can't get into your grain supply, they can't become a pest.
To keep mice out of your barn, for example, you'll want to make sure all holes are sealed tightly and everything is kept clean. This prevents them from physically getting into your barn and from being attracted by fallen food and grain.
3. Pest Control
Last but not least, you'll need to use pest control methods. These should only be used once you've put preventative measures in place that will control pests over time. However, in many cases, there is an immediate threat that you need to eliminate for the sake of your farm.
Kill traps are an example of a pest control method that will resolve this issue quickly and effectively. Once you have the mouse and rat population down to a manageable number, you can focus on prevention methods to keep the population down so you don't have to continually set traps for pest control.
Need Help Implementing Your Plan?
Now you know what integrated pest management is and how you can create a plan to safely and effectively prevent rodents and other pests from taking over your farm.
If you need help implementing your integrated pest management plan, check out our pest control products. We offer a wide variety of tools to help you keep insects and rodents away from your livestock and out of your fields.