In practical terms IPM strategies rely on some combination of: (1) monitoring of pest population levels; (2) biological control using predatory or parasitic insects; (3) cultural/physical controls, such as pruning, water management and sanitation; (4) host plant resistance; and (5) chemical control, through the judicious application of pesticides.
Pest management options that fit into the approach of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) include biological, mechanical and chemical crop protection measures as well as biotechnology. Modern pest management is based on prevention, careful monitoring of crop health (pressure from disease, weed and pest populations) and expedient interventions. Natural control processes - through techniques such as crop rotation and encouraging beneficial pest predators - also help to avoid outbreaks.
This strategy features in the framework of Agenda 21 as formulated at UNCED (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), now coordinated by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and implemented through national and local authorities.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) have assisted developing countries in the implementation of integrated pest management and also jointly co-sponsor the Panel of Experts on Integrated Pest Control in Agriculture.
In the mid-1980s, Indonesia initiated the biggest IPM programme ever attempted in order to combat the massive outbreaks of the rice-destroying insect, brown plant hopper. Three legislative strategies were employed: (1) 57 chemicals deemed responsible for the pest outbreak were banned for use in rice; (2) government subsidies on many other chemicals were cut from 85% and gradually reduced to zero over a three year period; (3) IPM became national policy. There was also a massive programme of farmer participation and training. Training was interactive and non-directive, centering on word-of-mouth information.
Consumer demand has been the most important influence on the penetration of integrated pest management in westernized country with completely market-oriented systems. Consumer-driven introduction of IPM is proceeding rapidly in north-western Europe. The second source, government-driven IPM, goes very slowly. Farmers have a long standing tradition of mistrusting the messages of governments. Sweden, the Netherlands and Denmark have taken policy decisions of pesticide reduction without mentioning IPM explicitly. Here the combination of heightened public concern over pollution by pesticides and emphasis on agricultural competitiveness have combined to steel government action.