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IPM

An estimated $12 billion in the United States (Environmental Protection Agency 2007) and $40 billion worldwide (Environmental Protection Agency 2007) is spent annually on the use of agricultural pesticides despite world-wide efforts to implement Integrated Pest Management techniques (Peshin and Dhawan 2009), organic farming methods (Barker 2010), and pest resistance crop varieties (Collinge, Jørgensen et al. 2010) over the last few decades. Farmers throughout the world continue to rely upon the practice of applying a prophylactic pesticide protective barrier throughout the growing season regardless of actual pest population levels (Pimentel and Lehman 1993). In addition to crop production costs, there are an estimated $10 billion in environmental and health losses annually in the United States attributable to pesticide usage (Carson 1962, Pimentel 2005). Nevertheless, there are undeniable benefits of pesticides (Cooper and Dobson 2007) and they will be continued to be used on a massive scale for the foreseeable future. Techniques for reducing pesticide usage while maintaining effective pest management such that additional crop loss does not occur are highly desirable (Pimentel 1997, Pretty 2005).

It’s hard to find a concise definition of Integrated Pest Management (IPM), but basically it is an ecosystem-based strategy that focuses on long-term prevention of pests and/or the damage they inflict through a combination of techniques. Organic farming is essentially a subset of IPM whereby the use of synthetic chemicals is excluded. Agricultural researchers tend to think in terms of either synthetic pesticides or organic methods instead of a combination of them in an IPM program. The use of organic methods until a pest threshold is reached whereupon synthetic pesticides are then used is a strategy that should not be overlooked. While a grower may not be able to slap a 'Certified Organic' label (Hansen 2010) on a crop that uses any synthetic pesticides, the economic benefits may prove to be a convincing argument for such a duo-approach strategy plus it is a excellent strategy for eventually converting them to wholly-organic farming. The tricky part is actually determining what pest thresholds to use and making reliable agricultural pest forecasts readily available to farmers and home gardeners.

A genetically modified organism (GMO) is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. In agriculture, a new trait is added to a plant variety to quickly increase its defenses to pests, reduce spoilage, increase its resistance to herbicides, or some other improvement traditionally obtained via plant breeding. Agricultural seed company profits are increasingly reliant upon the patenting of life and university plant biology departments are churning out gene jockeys while the number of applied agricultural researchers is shrinking every year.

IPM practices have increasingly become less integrated and more plant biotechnology centric. As any Trekkie would assure you, "Resistance is futile!" (Bole 1990). A genetics arms race has supplanted the pesticide arms race with risks to the environment, ecological balances, and crop variety integrity (Makki, Somwaru et al. 2001, Wieczorek 2003) that should not be overlooked in our zeal over these new tools in our plant pest management toolbox. History has taught us that a balanced approached is the smartest lest we repeat the mistakes made when pesticides were first introduced. Regardless of the pest management tool(s) chosen for a particular situation, an accurate plant pest forecast is certain to improve the effective usage of that tool.

The IPM component will be one of the base modules of DemiAg. Integrated Pest Management techniques also will be an integral part of the DemiAg Expert System for Agricultural Pest Management knowledge bases. In the future, you will be able to find here strategies for using DemiAg based upon IPM practices. This will be a free portal for providing IPM information to agricultural, farmers, and home gardeners.

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Coming soon. We will start delivering IPM information during 2017. The IPM component will be one of the first base modules of DemiAg to be completed. It will be a few years before we get DemiAg up and running.

 
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