Pollution Prevention through Precautionary Principles
Prevent pesticide related pollution through integration of precautionary principles in your departmental policy and procedures; integrate proactive, preventive or reduced-risk pest management practices, staff education and outreach. Consider IPM as an integral component of environmental preferable purchasing or green building practices, organic gardening, resource conservation, and non-point source pollution prevention.
Planning and Design
A landscape, facility or road right-of-way should be planned and designed considering parameters that will enhance the intended uses of the land and minimize pest problems. Design considers factors such as, types of uses, sanitation, housekeeping, maintenance, soils, grading and slope, water table, drainage, proximity to sensitive areas, selection of vegetation, and vector control issues.
Maintenance for maximum landscape health
Choices of vegetation in a landscape as well as maintenance practices serve to keep areas as healthy as possible and thus minimize pest problems. Appropriate selection and retention of plants, irrigation, application of mulch or fertilizer, mowing, and many other practices all serve to maintain healthy landscapes that withstand pest pressures and support natural predators for pests. A well-selected and maintained landscape reduces, often dramatically, the need for pest control.
Knowing the pest
Identification of pests and knowledge of their life cycles are crucial to proper management. Potential pests should be documented, and actual pests carefully identified to clearly focus IPM strategies. Field staff needs the opportunity for training in pest identification and the time to conduct regular assessments.
Determining tolerance thresholds
Tolerance thresholds must be established. They may vary by pest, specific location or type of land use. Weed threshold levels, for example, will be different for rural utility rights-of-way, urban turf and landscapes, and golf course greens, road shoulders and around structures. Insect or plant disease tolerances will likewise be different depending on uses and/or specific locations such as office versus cafeteria, etc.
Three distinct levels may be identified as subsets of threshold determination. The initial Injury threshold is the level at which some injury begins to occur or is noticeable. The action threshold is the level at which action must be taken to prevent a pest population at a specific site from reaching the aesthetic, functional or economic damage threshold, the level where unacceptable damage begins to occur. In most environments, certain levels of pest presence or injury can be accepted. IPM practitioners keep careful track of pests after the injury threshold is crossed so the pests do not get to the point where they can cause enough damage to impact the purpose of the landscape or facility being maintained. When the predetermined action threshold is crossed, interventions are implemented to avoid reaching the damage threshold.
There are situations where the threshold level for pests must be set near or at zero. Laws and regulations set the population threshold level at zero for class A noxious weed species due to potential for economic injury, public health or environmental impact. Road shoulders immediately adjacent to the pavement are areas where weed tolerance is low due to public safety requirements and potential for significant economic losses should the paved roadway surface be compromised. Safety and infrastructure protection also factor into the determination of very low or zero thresholds for weeds in areas such as electrical substations and propane tank storage yards or fuel loads around structures in regional parks or unincorporated lands within urban limits.
Monitoring for pests
Regular monitoring to assess pest level, extent, locations and stage in life cycle is important. Assessment relative to established tolerances is necessary. Field staff needs the opportunity for training in pest monitoring techniques and the time to allow for appropriate monitoring.
Developing the IPM plan
The following elements should be considered when selecting appropriate strategies:
- Preservation of natural systems and long-term health of the area
- Damage to the general environment
- Disruption of the natural controls, which are present
- Hazards to human health
- Toxicity to aquatic life
- Mobility and persistence in the environment
- Impact to non-target organisms
- Timing relative to the pest's life cycle with the least impact on natural enemies
- Ability to produce long-term reduction in the pest
- Ability to be carried out effectively
- Cost effectiveness in short and long term; incorporating strategies as an integral part of budget planning, capital improvement projects, contract provisions, lease negotiations, etc.
- Ability to be measured and evaluated
Implementing the IPM plan and selected strategies
Well-trained field staff should fully implement the strategies selected and record the steps followed and management methods used.
Monitoring and evaluation
Effectiveness of the IPM method(s) employed should be measured, records kept, and an evaluation process conducted to regularly assess how well it is working to bring about the desired results. Field staff need time for appropriate monitoring and record keeping, as well as opportunities for training and discussion in evaluation processes. Record keeping does not have to be elaborate or time-consuming; it can be as simple as keeping a field notebook or logbook, or electronically entered into a central database to aid later evaluation.
Learning, revision and process improvement
Results of application of specific IPM strategies as well as the IPM program should be reviewed regularly and revisions made as appropriate based on experience.