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IPM An Integrated Pest Management Program for Kentucky
D. Johnson, P. Lucas
Department of Entomology
There is currently significant pressure on producers (through early decision programs that provide economic incentives for purchase of pesticides or technologies in advance of the growing season), to implement new pesticide-based technologies, such as pesticide seed treatments, "Plant Health" calendar sprays,and genetically modified crops, beyond their apparent need based on documented pest levels. This is not a question of pesticide efficacy but rather a true IPM question as to whether or not these treatments are needed. The same can be said for the use of fertilizers.
We know from very recent data that our program can have an impact on these decisions. For example in our recent Corn/Soybean "Early Bird" meetings producers indicated on both corn and soybean, that they intended to decrease calendar fungicide application and increase scouting for fungicide applications, next season compared to this past season (Lee, unpublished data Nov. 2008). This type of change based primarily on increasing profitability is very important to all of Kentucky. We provide a single simple example as follows. Kentucky tourism generates about $10B/year. Much of this is based on/around our abundant lakes, rivers and streams. Kentucky has over 89,431 miles of rivers and streams and over 637,000 acres of wetlands; and anecdotally, Kentucky has more miles of free flowing stream bank than any other state in the US excepting Alaska. These tourism assets occupy the same rural/natural areas as our production agriculture. Contrastingly, ca. 76 % or our cropland is characterized by erosion concerns. As a single example, in 2005 Kentucky corn producers applied 210 M lbs of nitrogen, 75 M lbs. phosphate, 88 M lbs. potash, 3,187 K lbs. herbicides, and 26 K lbs. of insecticides on a 1,250,000 acre field corn crop. While these numbers alone do not prove a problem they certainly illustrate the potential for conflict to exist.
UK-IPM strives to provide decision-making tools to help producers to determine IF inputs are needed and if so, WHAT, WHEN, and HOW to apply and retain them on the crop, and avoid their movement to untended areas. Additionally, we focus on avoidance (e.g. planting dates) and other cultural practices to reduce the need for pesticides.