Oregon’s Integrated Pest Management Center serves as an innovative pest management hub for growers
Article and photos By Silvia I. Rondon
Since the early 1960s, the Oregon Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Center has accumulated a rich history of leading and coordinating multistate research and outreach programs to help a broad audience in the agricultural and urban sectors.
It is our intention to focus on core initiatives that are relevant to the current century, including decision support systems, ecological foundations, response to invasive species, and purposely connecting with pest management researchers, practitioners and clients (Figure 1).
Although we hope that the term “IPM” resonates with everyone, it probably does not have the same effect as if we are talking about bees or pollinators. However, in the urban and agricultural worlds, the concept of plant protection started as early as the domestication of plants or crop farming started.
In general, we are all constantly struggling to keep pests at low levels to minimize damage and maximize production, whether that means the produce in our backyard or in acres of any given crop. Regardless, the use of a series of researched control methods recommendations, with time, became the foundation of the IPM core concept.
Currently, we know that the IPM concept is complex, since many key players must communicate, coordinate and agree upon recommendations for pest control while satisfying the high demands of buyers, distributors and consumers. In the center of it all, pesticides have been a powerful tool in our fight against pests (Figure 2).
Pesticides and IPM
Pesticides are one of many tools to control pests. Pesticides can be used in conjunction with other control methods in an integrated manner.
One of the foundational ideas is to use pesticides when needed and to rotate modes of action to reduce the development of pesticide resistance. To be able to rotate pesticides, a different mode of action must be available. However, some key pesticides (e.g., chlorpyrifos) are being removed from the market, causing growers to scramble to find alternatives.
Chlorpyrifos was one of the most widely used active ingredients in agricultural insecticides in the world. It is a broad-spectrum organophosphate insecticide that has been registered for over 40 years. Until recently, over 50 insecticide products containing chlorpyrifos were registered for use in Oregon alone. These products were used in an extensive variety of specialties and other crops grown, including ornamentals, grass seed, fruits and vegetables. In these systems, it was considered critical to use this pesticide for the management of insect pests ranging from aphids and beetle larvae, to maggots and lepidopteran worms (Figure 3).
Results of several trials show mixed results of alternative modes of action that can reduce a pest problem. Several working groups across Oregon and the Pacific Northwest are initiating a cross-commodity collaborative research effort to identify viable options as alternatives for chlorpyrifos and others. As other pesticides may have the same fate as this product, further collaborative research efforts should be considered.
Decision support tools
IPM is much more than pesticides. Since the late 1990s, the Oregon IPM Center has been developing and maintaining weather and climate-driven decision support for pest management. Currently, the center hosts more than 150 predictive pest and disease models to help growers know when and where to act.
The Degree Days Risk and Phenology (DDRP) event mapping is a platform that helps decision-makers plan ahead for new invasive threats, management actions and much more. The general goal is to provide a free and comprehensive tool, nationwide IPM resources, more accurate models and plenty of on-demand features that help our audience make better management decisions. This platform will help growers make choices that can potentially reduce the unnecessary use of pesticides.
Identification of promising alternatives, knowledge gain, cost-benefit data and providing training on practical alternatives are a few of many pieces of a pest management program. Our hope is that more growers will commit to IPM.
How will we accomplish that goal? By gaining growers’ trust in research-based information and the experience of IPM practitioners. By connecting and engaging. And by sharing knowledge and experience through learning.
The Oregon IPM Center serves as a hub of information and connection, bringing much-needed resources that can help us leverage more sustainable IPM practices. The center teaches, engages and connects homeowners through the Solve Pest Problems website and producers through the OIPMC website. Our mission is to encourage all growers to maximize the benefits of planning workable integrated pest management programs.
Silvia I. Rondon is an entomologist and director of Oregon State University’s Oregon Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Center in Corvallis, Oregon. Email her at OIPMC.Info@OregonState.edu.
Growing Knowledge from the May 2023 issue of Digger magazine | Download PDF