Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an ecosystems approach to crop production and protection that combines different management strategies and practices to grow healthy crops. IPM involves the coordinated use of complementary tactics to simultaneously assess and suppress multiple insects, pathogens, weeds, and vertebrate pests, using a range of chemical, biological and bio-technological tools.
Reducing the use of chemical pesticides is a component of IPM; under EU Directive 2009/128 (Sustainable Use) all growers and farmers within EU member states were required to implement their crop protection activity based on principles of IPM by the end of 2014. The development and promotion of IPM systems is at the core of the EU's approach to decreasing pesticide use and promoting more sustainable agriculture.
The EU Directives on the safety of marketed pesticides and on their sustainable use in farming have been brought under the umbrella of the 'Thematic Strategy on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides', creating a policy framework for the gradual decrease in the use of chemical pesticides in European agriculture. The challenge of maintaining or increasing food production with fewer pesticides will require more research to develop cost-effective, whole-farm and landscape-scale IPM solutions.
The European Commission has provided guidance for establishing eight key IPM principles:
- Measures for prevention and/or suppression of harmful organisms (pests)
- Tools for monitoring pests
- Threshold values of pest numbers on a crop as the basis for decision-making
- Non-chemical methods to be preferred
- Target-specificity and minimisation of side effects on beneficial organisms such as pollinators and biocontrol agents
- Reduction of pesticide use to necessary levels
- Application of anti-resistance strategies for permitted pesticides
- Records, monitoring, documentation and check of success of pest suppression