In modern production agriculture, it’s important that we look at the big picture of how to manage yield-robbing pests. It’s human nature to gravitate toward the practices that are either cheapest or the easiest. However, in the long run these selected practices may end up costing more. We must evaluate the short- and long-term impact of the decisions we make. IPM, or integrated pest management, consists of a host of tools that are available to properly protect a crop.
Integrated Pest Management: A sustainable approach that combines the use of prevention, avoidance, monitoring and suppression strategies in a way that minimizes economic, health and environmental risks.
1. Properly Identify the problematic pest:
a. Type of pest: Insect, disease, vegetation
b. What is the Life Cycle? 
i. Larva stage or reproductive stage
ii. Active or over wintering
iii. Which cycle will cause the most damage?
c. Monitoring the Pest: 
i. What is the density of the pest: Low-med-high or medium with aggressive potential?
ii. Economic Threshold: Pest density at which control measures should be taken to avoid crop value loss.
iii. Economic Injury Level: The lowest pest density that can reduce crop values equivalent to the cost of controlling the pest population.
2. Types of Treatments:
a. Crop rotation: Removing a susceptible host
b. Planting dates: Not exposing seed to pests with early planting in cool or wet soils
c. Chemical treatment: Seed treatments, residual and post herbicides, fungicide
VT (Corn)/R3-R4 (Soybeans).
d. Cover crops: Minimize winter annuals
e. Residue management: Minimizes insect and disease overwintering
f. Fertility: A fully fed crop will grower stronger and faster
3. Risk of Treatments:
a. Future resistance (insect, disease, weeds)
i. Over-application of same active ingredient and single MOA/SOA
b. Short-term results: Will it last long enough?
c. Cost: Will the cost of treatment produce a ROI?
d. Applicator and environmental risk: Personal risk, leaching, runoff, off target damage

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About the Author: Todd Steinacher

Steinacher is an ISA CCA Soy Envoy alum and currently supports ISA on agronomic content as well as serving as an Illinois CCA board member. He was recently awarded the 2020 IL CCA of the Year & the 2021 International CCA of the Year. He has over 15 years agronomic experience, currently working with AgriGold and GROWMARK previously. Steinacher has an associate degree from Lincoln Land Community College, a B.S. in agronomy and business from Western Illinois University and a master’s degree in crop science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.