WHAT IS IPM?
Integrated Pest Management or IPM is an environmentally responsible way to manage pests. In this Blog I will be strictly dealing with IPM and how it relates to Lawn Care. Over the years our clients have increasingly asked us if we offer Organic Lawn Care. Our answer has always been yes, but that if they are looking for a healthy, vibrant lawn it is extremely difficult to achieve with strict organics. There are many reasons for this and would constitute an entire post on it’s own.
So what is IPM- at its core is a method of pest prevention that focuses on having a strong healthy lawn that is resistant to pests. One of the most important aspects is monitoring of the lawn. Monitoring the soils available nutrients, the soils PH or if there are pests present. We monitor the available nutrients to see how much of which nutrients to enhance. We monitor the PH (acidic level) to see if we need to ad lime to reduce the level of acidity in our lawns. As an aside most soils in our area are more acidic than alkaline, lawns do best in a slightly acidic soil. If a ph of 7 is neutral then 6-6.5 ph is what we are looking for. We also scout to see if pests are present. It is not necessarily a bad thing if they are present. There are thresholds where pests become a problem. So for example if you see a grub in your lawn, it may not be an issue. First you have to identify what type of grub it is, and then see how many are tolerable per square foot then how many are actually present per square foot. At that point and only at that point can you devise a plan to deal with them.
In terms of the Nutrients, there are many ways to ad nutrients to the soils. There are conventional Water soluble or insoluble fertilizers, there are organic pellitized materials, there is also topdressing with composts or sand. All of these methods have there place in an IPM based approach and all should be utilized.
When dealing with pests whether fungus, disease or living creatures there are a host of options that we can use to control the issue. We can of course use chemical treatments, in many cases cultural practices such as when and how much to water can control slight outbreaks of disease and fungus. In some cases we can remove and replant.
Cultural practices (or the practices that we use to maintain and care for our turf), is as important as how much fertilizer we use or don’t use. Watering to a proper depth at the right time is critical to turfs health. Also compaction is a serious problem that can be affected by shade, watering practices as well as foot traffic. All of these things are manageable under an IPM approach. Conventional lawn care programs work and work quite well, but an IPM approach can work and work better. It also works in a way that can be more environmentally friendly than either a pure organic method or a more conventional approach. What you must understand is that it comes at a price, the price in terms of dollars is more than the conventional programs. But in terms of your personal environment the benefits are priceless.