Integrated pest management (IPM) for agriculture & outdoor use

Integrated pest management (IPM) includes a broad range of methods to control pests that also minimize potential hazards to people, property, and the environment. IPM employs a four-tiered approach – setting action thresholds, monitoring and identifying pests, preventing pests from becoming a threat, and pest control as needed. IPM pest control begins with the least risky approaches (e.g., using pheromones or mechanical controls such as weeding or trapping) and moves to targeted pesticide application only if other measures are not successful. IPM practices only permit broadcast spraying of non-specific pesticides as a last resort (and not in organic food production). The IPM approach can be used in outdoor settings such as farms, home gardens, parks, or any other landscaped environment (US EPA-IPM). 

Expected Beneficial Outcomes (Rated)

  • Reduced pesticide use

Other Potential Beneficial Outcomes

  • Reduced pesticide exposure

  • Reduced run-off

  • Improved water quality

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is strong evidence that integrated pest management (IPM) practices reduce pesticide use and successfully control pests for many crops in a variety of outdoor settings (, , Sikora 2002, Gleason 1994, , Birch 2011, Kabashima 1998, ). Agricultural practices such as landscape diversification, integrated weed management, habitat management, trap cropping, and other prevention and control tactics can be used as part of an IPM plan, and such practices have been shown to reduce pesticide use and control pests (Bianchi 2006, , , , ). There is significant variability in the implementation of IPM practices, and some efforts reduce pesticide use better than others (US EPA-IPM).

Models suggest that IPM practices eliminate pests more effectively than conventional practices (, ). Field trials show that IPM practices and reductions in pesticide use do not reduce crop yields (MacFadyen 2014, Gleason 1994, Sikora 2002), and in some cases, IPM adoption has resulted in higher crop yields (Birch 2011, ). Area-wide IPM, coordinated IPM efforts at the regional level, control mobile pest populations better than less widespread efforts, and may be necessary to improve regional ecosystems and watersheds (). IPM practices can also reduce farming costs (Sikora 2002).

Fresh fruits and vegetables grown with IPM practices have significantly less pesticide residue than conventionally grown produce, although organically grown vegetables have the lowest amounts of pesticide residues (). IPM practices and reductions in pesticide use reduce exposure to pesticides for agricultural workers (, Sikora 2002), consumers (), and wildlife and ecosystems (). Pesticide exposure increases risks to human health through increased cancer incidence and various negative neurologic, reproductive, and genotoxic effects (Sanborn 2007).

Successful IPM plans are site-specific and require a lot of time and information to create. Plans designed by pest control consultants that work for pesticide companies are sometimes pesticide management plans rather than full IPM plans. Pesticide management plans are not as effective at reducing pesticide use as plans that adhere to the National Resources Conservation Service standards for IPM (Ehler 2006, NRCS-Standard of practice).

Impact on Disparities

No impact on disparities likely

Implementation Examples

All 50 states have IPM programs. Regional IPM centers and federal IPM programs also support development of IPM practices (USDA-IPM in the US). The US Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is the primary agency connecting the federal government with the land-grant university system; it also administers and provides leadership for many IPM programs (USDA NIFA-IPMP).

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administers the Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program (PESP) that works with the pesticide-user community to promote IPM practices, and currently has over 200 participating member companies and organizations in 41 states and Washington DC (US EPA-PESP).

Implementation Resources

US EPA-IPM - US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA). Integrated pest management (IPM) principles.

NRCS-Standard of practice - Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Conservation practice standard: Integrated pest management (IPM). National Handbook of Conservation Practices (NHCP). Code 595;2010.

USDA-Regional IPM centers - US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Regional IPM centers: A national umbrella site for the regional IPM centers.

NPS-IPM manual - National Park Service (NPS), US Department of the Interior. Integrated pest management manual.

Citations - Evidence

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

US EPA-IPM - US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA). Integrated pest management (IPM) principles.

Sanborn 2007 - Sanborn M, Kerr KJ, Sanin LH, Cole DC, Bassil KL, Vakil C. Non-cancer health effects of pesticides. Canadian Family Physician (CFP). 2007;53:1712–1720.

Chen 2013* - Chen AR, Klein MG, Sheng C, et al. Use of pheromone timed insecticide applications integrated with mating disruption or mass trapping against Ostrina furnacalis (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) in sweet corn. Entomological Society of America (ESA). 2013;42(6):1390-1399.

Hruska 2002* - Hruska A, Corriols M. The impact of training in integrated pest management among Nicaraguan maize farmers: Increased net returns and reduced health risk. International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health (IJOEH). 2002;8(3):191-200.

Sikora 2002 - Sikora EJ, Kemble JM, Zehnder GW, et al. Using on-farm demonstrations to promote integrated pest management practices in tomato production. HortTechnology. 2002;12(3):485-488.

Gleason 1994 - Gleason M, Ali M, Domoto P, Lewis D, Duffy M. Comparing integrated pest management and protectant strategies for control of Apple Scab and Codling Moth in an Iowa apple orchard. HortTechnology. 1994; 4(2):136-141.

Kogan 1998* - Kogan M. Integrated pest management: Historical perspectives and contemporary developments. Annual Review of Entomology. 1998;43(43):243-70.

Birch 2011 - Birch ANE, Begg GS, Squire GR. How agro-ecological research helps to address food security issues under new IPM and pesticide reduction policies for global crop production systems. Journal of Experimental Botany. 2011;62(10):3251-61.

Kabashima 1998 - Kabashima J, Paine T, Redak R. Successful strategies for reducing pesticide use in the landscape: Examples from California. HortTechnology. 1998;8(2):150-153.

Anderson 2007* - Anderson R. Managing weeds with a dualistic approach of prevention and control: A review. Agronomy for Sustainable Development. 2007;27:13-18.

Bianchi 2006 - Bianchi FJJA, Booij CJH, Tscharntke T. Sustainable pest regulation in agricultural landscapes: A review on landscape composition, biodiversity and natural pest control. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 2006;273:1715-27.

Thill 1991* - Thill DC, Lish JM, Callihan RH, Bechinski EJ. Integrated weed management: A component of integrated pest management: A critical review. Weed Science Society of America. 1991;5(3):648-656.

Landis 2000* - Landis DA, Wratten SD, Gurr GM. Habitat management to conserve natural enemies of arthropod pests in agriculture. Annual Review of Entomology. 2000;45:175-201.

Hokkanen 1991* - Hokkanen HMT. Trap cropping in pest management. Annual Review of Entomology. 1991;36:119-138.

Cumming 2006* - Cumming GS, Spiesman BJ. Regional problems need integrated solutions: Pest management and conservation biology in agroecosystems. Biological Conservation. 2006;131:533-543.

MacFadyen 2014 - Macfadyen S, Hardie DC, Fagan L, et al. Reducing insecticide use in broad-acre grains production: An Australian study. PLOS ONE. 2014;9(2):e89119.

Thomas 1990* - Thomas JK, Ladewig H, Mcintosh WA. The adoption of integrated pest management practices among Texan cotton growers. Rural Sociology. 1990;55(5)395-;410.

Baker 2002* - Baker BP, Benbrook CM, Groth E, Benbrook KL. Pesticide residues in conventional, integrated pest management (IPM)-grown and organic foods: Insights from three US data sets. Food Additives and Contaminants. 2002;19(5):427-447.

Ehler 2006 - Ehler LE. Integrated pest management (IPM): Definition, historical development and implementation, and the other IPM. Pest Management Science. 2006;62:787-789.

Liu 2005* - Liu B, Zhang Y, Chen L. The dynamical behaviors of a Lotka–Volterra predator–prey model concerning integrated pest management. Nonlinear Analysis: Real World Applications. 2005;6:227-243.

Tang 2005* - Tang S, Xiao Y, Chen L, Cheke R. Integrated pest management models and their dynamical behaviour. Bulletin of Mathematical Biology. 2005;67:115-135.

NRCS-Standard of practice - Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Conservation practice standard: Integrated pest management (IPM). National Handbook of Conservation Practices (NHCP). Code 595;2010.

Citations - Implementation Examples

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

USDA-IPM in the US - US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Regional IPM centers: IPM in the US.

USDA NIFA-IPMP - US Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Integrated pest management program (IPMP).

US EPA-PESP - US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA). Pesticide environmental stewardship program (PESP).

Date Last Updated

Jun 3, 2015