Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a systematic approach to pest management that considers all factors affecting crop health, including plant nutrition, horticultural practices, and all suitable means of pest suppression. IPM programs are based on information obtained by sampling and monitoring, and this information is used to make management decisions. Pest management tactics may include biological, chemical, mechanical, and cultural methods. An IPM program for a given crop will include some essential elements, but some practices will not be appropriate in all situations: designing a farm-specific IPM program requires flexibility.
The Massachusetts IPM Guidelines are a list of best management practices, developed cooperatively by growers, university faculty and extension specialists, and private IPM consultants. Additional input was solicited from commodity associations and participants in IPM verification programs and IPM courses. Practices have been evaluated for their practicality and assigned points based on their importance to IPM and/or their difficulty. The guidelines for most crops have been tested and adjusted through the USDA Farm Service Agency ICM cost-share program and through the Partners with Nature program. While these guidelines represent the best management options currently available, they will evolve as new IPM technologies are developed.
IPM Guidelines can be used in a number of ways: 1.) As a checklist for farmers to evaluate their on-farm pest management programs and identify areas where management can be improved; 2.) To verify and document that IPM is practiced on the farm; 3.) As an educational tool which describes the scope and complexity of IPM to farmers, government officials, community groups and the general public.
The followings terms are used in calculating points in the IPM guidelines:
Category or Grand Total Practice Points
Refers to the sum of all possible practice points described within a category or individual crop guideline. For example, if a grower used every practice in the guideline, all points would apply.
Adjusted Category or Grand Total Practice Points
Refers to the sum of all practice points appropriate for the crop, within a category or guideline. Because some practices may not apply to the site being assessed (see Conditional Practices and Bonus Points), the points associated with that practice may be deducted from the Total Practice Points.
Refers to practices that can only be implemented under certain conditions. These practices are italicized and printed in green. Points associated with conditional practices have not been added to the total possible points, but should be added if conditions allow for the practice to be implemented.
Refers to points associated with practices which are of potential value to an IPM system, and are worthy of trial, but are experimental or require exceptional effort. Point values associated with these practices do not contribute to the Total Practice Points but, if the practice is completed, the points are added when calculating Grand Total Practice Points. Bonus points are labeled as such within the guidelines.