Administration / Coordination
IPM is an acronym for Integrated Pest Management, an approach to dealing with pests of crops, landscapes and structures, which incorporates concepts from the disciplines of systems science and ecology. The vast majority of the applied research at the basis of IPM has been carried out since the early 1970's at land-grant colleges in the US, and their counterparts throughout the world.
It is generally accepted that IPM is a systems approach to pest management, based on accurate pest identification and monitoring, use of economic and/or aesthetic thresholds, and use of all suitable control measures (both pesticidal and non-pesticidal) in an ecologically compatible manner, which maintains pest population levels below those causing economically-significant injury. If no effective non-pesticidal control measures are available, a key IPM tenet is that pesticides should be selected which result in the lowest possible risk to health or the environment.
Agriculture and related industries (golf courses, sports turf, landscape and lawn maintenance, arboriculture, etc.) convey substantial benefits to the Commonwealth. These include availability of affordable, fresh local food and fiber, open space, recreational opportunities, and a significant contribution to the state's economy. In some towns, the few remaining farms constitute the largest amount of remaining open space, and many public or private water supplies are drawn from aquifers underlying this agricultural land.
However, because pesticides typically used in pest management have been known to cause environmental degradation and have potential human health effects, a need exists to develop and implement pest management systems which are less reliant on chemical pesticides. At the same time, there is also a need for such systems to maintain economic viability of affected businesses, food quality and affordability, and quality of life measures for all citizens.
Since its initiation in 1978, the UMass IPM Program has served as a significant source of research-based outreach education focused on integrated management systems for important agricultural crops, service industries and communities in Massachusetts and New England. This has been made possible by the fortuitous combination of a group of recognized scholars working on targeted and well-focused applied research in the forefront of knowledge about pest ecology, behavior, and biological control, coupled with an aggressive and well-managed education program offered by staff affiliated with the UMass Extension Agriculture and Landscape Program.
Operational funding for the program is through a significant annual allocation from the United States Department of Agriculture (Smith-Lever 3(d) Pest Management funds, $100,000 in FY 08), from grower contributions and fees (approx. $5,000 in FY 08). In addition, salary and fringe benefit costs of some key participating faculty and staff are paid through the base budget of the UMass Amherst College of Natural Resources and Environment, and its Agricultural Experiment Station. In addition, the Commonwealth's Department of Agricultural Resources also provides program funding of via State line item 2511-3002 ($150,000 in FY 09).
UMass Extension staff currently offer statewide educational, demonstration, and research projects for producers of cranberries, apples, vegetables, small fruits and greenhouse crops as well as for managers of public and private landscapes and turf. In some years, staff also assist with IPM training for those whose responsibilities involve pest management in schools, day care facilities and public or private housing. UMass Extension faculty and professional staff are expected to maintain a strong connection with end users through direct contact and through meetings of advisory committees. Advisory committees are typically composed of a diverse group of stakeholders representing industry, private IPM consultants, environmental and consumer advocates and others. These groups play an active role in identifying research and extension needs and in providing a critical 'feedback loop' regarding feasibility. Furthermore, because many project advisory committee members are seen as leaders within their respective industries, demonstration projects occurring on their properties are likely to have a higher potential for diffusion into the larger community than such projects carried out on University research farms.
Review of annual project proposals is conducted by a sub-group of the UMass Extension Board of Public Overseers (BOPO). This group is charged with providing annual review of project activities and proposals, determining levels of project funding, and developing a long term vision for the statewide IPM Program.
Selected IPM Articles:
Vigorous Farms in a Safe Environment