Letters From The AEssenseGrows Plant Science Team - Building An Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Plan

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Topic: Building An Integrated Pest Management Plan


Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a philosophy of pest prevention and control that integrates cultural, mechanical, physical, and chemical practices to control pest populations within an acceptable degree of economic tolerance.

IPM encourages growers to take a step-wise approach to determine the most appropriate means necessary for avoiding pest-related economic injury through careful consideration of all available pest control practices.

When practicing IPM, less invasive non-chemical practices are given priority, until escalation necessitates otherwise.


Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Pyramid


Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Plan

An IPM plan is a proactive set of guidelines for the monitoring, identification, prevention, and treatment of specific pest problems. Effective IPM plans are crop and environment specific and focus on both preventative and adaptive measures for long-term success.

Essential Components of a Successful Integrated Pest Management Plan

While all successful IPM plans will be unique, the essential components framing the plans remain consistent. For a sustainable and effective IPM plan, the following components are essential.

    • Pest Identification
    • Pest Monitoring
    • Preventative and Proactive Measures
    • Direct Control and Control Options
    • Continual Improvement and Adaptation

Request: The Complete IPM Planning Guide here New!

1. Pest Identification

Identifying pests is essential for effectively managing and preventing pest infestations. Different pests require different treatment strategies. Accurate pest identification is critical – misidentifying pests can lead to ineffective or unnecessary treatments. To assist in this process, growers should identify a list of pests that exist within the facility or have existed during previous periods, combined with where and when the pests were found. In large facilities, training cultivation staff about which pests exist, how to identify said pests, and who to contact when they encounter pests is vital.


2. Pest Monitoring

Pest monitoring is a fundamental component of any IPM plan. Pest monitoring allows growers to proactively detect and identify pest population at early stages, enabling timely and effective interventions. Specifically, regular monitoring allows growers to implement elevated preventive measures early on, such as optimizing environmental conditions, using non-chemical controls, and increasing the rigor of sanitary procedures when traveling between rooms, to effectively manage newly introduced pests. This is especially true for indoor cultivation, where pests can be systematically eradicated through proper planning and pest control action implementation.

Effective pest monitoring in any environment, necessitates regular scouting and record keeping. Identifying a list of scouting techniques for each category of identified pests as well as designating individual(s) to scout and record on a regular basis can improve scouting effectiveness over time. Regular trap setting, visual inspections, and microbial lab sample collections will aid in providing a more accurate snapshot of pests presence within a facility. Creating specific documents for pest scouting and recording will help keep documentation of pest monitoring activities clear and organized. In addition, separating the documentation allows for flexibility in updating or modifying the monitoring protocols or data collection methods as needed, without disrupting the entire IPM documentation system. By maintaining an accurate record of pest populations, locations, and trends growers can more easily evaluate the efficacy of pest control measures allowing data-driven adjustments of the IPM plan to be made as needed.


3. Preventative and Proactive Measures

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" (Benjamin Franklin). Prevention is the foundation upon which all integrated pest management plans are built. The implementation of and strict coherence to preventative and proactive measures are critical to the long term success of any cultivation effort.

Preventative IPM measures aim to identify potential pests and take forward-thinking steps to stop them from entering the facility. Some essential preventative measures include:

  • Identifying a list of necessary worker personal protective equipment and procedures for normal and extraordinary circumstances tasks

  • Designing cultivation facilities intentionally with layouts that reduce cross contamination

  • Ensuring the buildings, rooms, and plants are sealed from outside spaces to prevent cross contamination

  • Creating repeatable pre and post-harvest operating procedure for cleaning and sanitizing spaces

  • Ensuring the Facility HVAC systems are working within acceptable capacity


Proactive IPM measures aim to identify potential pest problems within the facility and document measures to address them if they occur. Proactive documentation should allow a facility to determine:

  • Who should be contacted when a pest is discovered

  • How to determine the pest population density

  • The relative threat a specific pest population density poses

  • Specific severity thresholds for each specific pest population density

  • Specific treatment actions to match each threshold

  • Specific follow-up treatments and risk assessments to be made before considering the pest eradicated

  • Which events qualify as a cultivation emergency, what immediate actions should taken, and who should be contacted

4. Direct Control and Control Options

Direct control involves the targeted use of physical, biological, or chemical treatments to reduce the severity of a pest population or eliminate the pest entirely. This may include methods such as trapping, manual cleaning, pruning, spraying, or dosing. Effective direct control actions aim to provide immediate and targeted results in reducing pest population without harming the plant.

The early periods of pest exposure are the most critical for effective direct treatment. Without a proactive direct control and control options treatment plan, growers can allow pest problems that were otherwise treatable to quickly get out of hand while they attempt to react to the situation appropriately. Understanding which treatments can be used for the direct control of a pest can be more challenging than applying the treatment itself. Determining which chemicals to apply, when to apply, and at what rate is not always clear, especially when the stress of an impending infestation looms.

In order to get ahead of pest infestations, cultivators should work to detail multiple direct control options for specific pests known to have been present within the facility as well as common pests known to affect the crops being cultivated, regardless of whether those pests had been identified within the facility previously. When detailing direct control options, cultivators must reference the locally approved active ingredients list provided by regulatory agencies to avoid the use of treatments containing banned or unlisted active ingredients. In the U.S., the list of approved active ingredients for Cannabis pest treatment is different in each state. For example, the active ingredient in the popular microbial biofungicide – MycoStop, Streptomyces Griseoviridis Strain K61, is approved for use in California but not Michigan. Alternatively, the active ingredient for a similar product, Actinovate AG – Streptomyces lydicus strain WYEC 108, is approved for use in Michigan, but not California. If ever unsure of what is allowable for use, contact local regulatory agencies for clarity – it’s their job to help you.


5. Continual Improvement and Adaptation

Finally, an IPM plan includes ongoing evaluation and review of documents to track progress, identify trends, and adjust as needed. While starting cultivation with an IPM plan in mind is critical, it is equally important to reflect, evaluate, and adapt IPM plans over time as new pests emerge or new control options arise. By monitoring the pest populations and the effectiveness of pest control actions over time – growers can more effectively make timely iterations to existing plans, allowing for more effective long-term pest management.


Integration Pest Management (IPM) Maintenance Cycle



The Complete AEssenseGrows IPM Planning Guide

Having an IPM plan in place before starting cultivation will reduce the reliance on reactive measures and control options; many of which are often too little too late and involve the use of harsh and expensive chemicals. The AEssenseGrows IPM Planning Guide provides example tables, figures, and documents for all essential components of a successful IPM plan. The guide can be used to build a first plan or update an existing plan. AEssenseGrows customers and grow partners can request the complete guide here New!.  


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