The concept of Integrated Plant Protection originated as early as the late 1950s and now stands for choosing the best protection strategy that takes into account the safeguarding of farmers’ interests and financial stability, as well as the safety of society and the environment.
The Code of Good Agricultural Practice defines it as follows: “…integrated pest management consists of a combination of effective, environmentally safe and socially acceptable biological, agrotechnical and chemical methods of plant protection that maintain the population of agrophages below harmful thresholds.”
In contrast, according to the International Organisation for Biological Control (IOBC), integrated protection is: “the control of agrophages using all available methods according to economic, ecological and toxicological requirements that give priority to natural limiting factors and economic thresholds of risk”.
Prevention of pest organisms should be achieved by, among other things:
- use of crop rotation or appropriate crop rotation,
- use of proper agrotechnology,
- use of resistant or tolerant varieties and seed and planting stock assessed in accordance with seed legislation,
- use of balanced fertilisation, liming, irrigation and land reclamation,
- use of measures to prevent the introduction of harmful organisms,
- protecting and creating conditions conducive to beneficial organisms,
- use of phytosanitary hygiene measures (such as regular cleaning of machinery and equipment used in plant cultivation) to prevent the spread of harmful organisms,
- use of plant protection products in such a way as to reduce the risk of resistance in harmful organisms.
In summary, it can be stated that integrated pest management involves the targeted use of all available methods in reducing the occurrence of pest organisms below an abundance at which economic losses may occur. The premise of integrated pest management is to use chemical pesticides only when the yield of the crop is at risk and other methods of plant protection are not able to reduce this risk. In addition, the importance of integrated plant protection for maintaining biodiversity is emphasised. More in Journal of Laws 2013 item 505: isap.sejm.gov.pl/isap.nsf/DocDetails.xsp?id=WDU20130000505
As of 01.01.2014, all farmers in the European Union are obliged to apply plant protection measures according to the principles of Integrated Plant Protection. The implementation of this obligation requires farmers to have adequate professional training and to keep up to date with the possibilities and actual needs of plant protection on their farms. Integrated pest management is to use all options to reduce the incidence of pests, not just the chemical method. It excludes the use of protection according to a rigid chemical application programme, without taking into account actual needs. Agrotechnical, mechanical, physical, biological, breeding, integrated and quarantine methods are preferred. The use of any plant protection product must have a real justification, with chemicals used at the lowest possible doses and as closely as possible to the specific needs of the crop. These principles are implemented by:
- preventing the occurrence of harmful organisms or limiting their negative impact by: implementing appropriate and recommended agronomic practices for the crops grown, using seed and planting stock assessed in accordance with seed legislation and free from diseases and pests,
- planning sustainable fertilisation, liming, irrigation and land reclamation of crops,
- creating and caring for habitats for beneficial organisms, carrying out protection of beneficial organisms;
- compliance with sanitary and phytosanitary rules (cleaning of agricultural machinery and equipment, disinfection of storage facilities).
Regular monitoring and signalling makes it possible to predict and identify the presence of pests on the plantation. By correctly signalling the appearance of pests, it is possible to determine when and where to carry out the necessary chemical treatments. This allows for increased effectiveness and efficiency of the protection provided, minimising the negative impact of plant protection products on the environment.
Integrating different methods to reduce the threat from pests requires a great deal of knowledge about crops, their biology, as well as about pests and their development cycles. It is essential to know the risk thresholds for individual agrophages in crops, conditioning decisions on chemical protection. In many situations, the farmer may need professional support, which will not only bring him good protection results at reduced own costs, but also additional knowledge for the future.
Integrated Pest Management involves giving preference to methods of controlling pest populations based on knowledge of the biology of the pest species and the crop, to mechanical and cultivation methods, and, of the protection methods, to the use of biological agents. It is recommended to integrate the different methods with each other and, if necessary, with the chemical method. The simplest method of influencing the regulation of agrophages is a proper rotation, which can reduce both the proliferation of weeds, pests and the infectious potential of diseases. Rotation combined with appropriate cultivation measures increases the chance of keeping agrophage populations at low, harmless levels, but cannot guarantee this. Expected or observed exceedance of the damage threshold justifies the implementation of a plant protection measure, including with chemical agents. The most effective pest control is achieved by integrating all available methods. By maintaining the right soil structure and pH, proper crop rotation and cultivation practices, the abundance of pests can be reduced, which will lead to better results with plant protection treatments, whether with biological or chemical preparations.
Training courses on Integrated Plant Protection are the basis for acquiring binding knowledge for farmers applying plant protection products – in terms of application, for agricultural advisors and sellers of plant protection products – in terms of counselling, and for persons conducting technical efficiency tests of equipment intended for the application of plant protection products – in terms of testing the technical efficiency of the equipment. The training courses are conducted by units and organisations acting under the authority of the Voivodship Inspector of Plant Protection and Seed Inspection – a list of them is available on the WIORiN website. The validity of the training is 5 years.