8 Integrated Pest Management
Sooner or later, pests can become a problem, especially when turf is stressed, such as when heat, drought, or high humidity conditions persist. Pesticides alone will not control pests; a more effective approach is to develop an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program to reduce pest damage and reliance on pesticides. IPM is a sustainable approach to managing pests by combining biological, cultural, physical, and chemical tools in a way that minimizes economic, health, and environmental risks and maintains turfgrass quality.
By following the latest research, managers can have high quality playing surfaces with minimal impact on the environment. Research at Bethpage State Park has shown that IPM can result in 33-96% less environmental impact without reducing course quality and does not cost more than conventional management (Rossi and Grant, 2009). The NYS BMP case study Reducing Environmental Impact of Pest Management at Soaring Eagles Golf Course shows how IPM methods have reduced pesticide usage.
BMP Principles for IPM
- Conduct thorough assessments of pest pressure and establish appropriate thresholds for managed turf areas.
- Identify and correct growing environments that exacerbate pest pressure.
- Implement sanitation, exclusion, and cultural practices to minimize pest pressure.
- Determine least-toxic pest control programs, including using a selection strategy that includes an evaluation of pesticide characteristics and potential for non-target effects, as well as preventive approaches.
- Assess control program effectiveness using established monitoring practices.
8.1 Regulatory Considerations
As described in detail in the next chapter (“Pesticide Management”), pesticide usage must follow state and federal regulatory requirements.
8.2 IPM Overview
Progressive IPM programs follow seven steps. These steps include the use of pesticides, when needed and used a tool to increase or maintain economic value of the property being managed.
When chemical control is needed, selection and evaluation considerations can be used to help select an appropriate pesticide that can be used safely on the site in question while being protective of the environment.
Although IPM permeates all aspects of course management and planning, it can be thought of in the following steps:
Step 1 – Planning
Step 2 – Identification and Monitoring
Step 3 – Course Management
Step 4 – Evaluation & Analysis
Step 5 – Intervention
Step 6 – Record Keeping
Step 7 – Communication
Each of the seven steps are discussed in detail on the Seven IPM Steps web page of the NYS BMP website. Additional information on IPM can be found in these resources and publications:
- New York State Integrated Pest Management Program
- Reducing Chemical Use on Golf Course Turf: Redefining IPM, New York State Integrated Pest Management Program
- 2017 Cornell Guide for Commercial Turfgrass Management, Cornell University Cooperative Extension
- Reducing the Risks of Golf Course Management: The Bethpage Project, Cornell University Cooperative Extension
8.3 Management Options
An IPM manager uses a mix of preventive and reactive strategies to manage pest problems. Course management decisions and cultural practices are ongoing, while reactive measures are decided and implemented in season. Selecting from a number of management options according to incoming information instead of the calendar is a hallmark of an IPM manager.
Diversification of management options is key, using a variety of cultural, biological, physical, and possibly chemical strategies. The case against sole reliance on chemical approaches is obvious because it promotes resistance, and frequent use may subject applicators, golfers, and the environment to unnecessary risks. Similarly, reliance on any other single-tactic approach is also not recommended because if it fails, damage or turf loss is likely and that can lead to a negative effect on water quality. IPM’s diversification of tactics allows for multiple layers of protection, and therefore better insurance against pests.
8.3.2 Cultural Practices
Turfgrass is a perennial plant system in which cultural practices, especially irrigation, mowing, topdressing, aeration, and venting, greatly affect both short- and long-term plant health. Healthy plants and soil can better withstand pest pressure. Weak turf can be outcompeted by weeds that take advantage of bare ground or thin turf. Pathogens in particular can take advantage of weak, stressed, or otherwise unhealthy plants and cause disease. Unhealthy plants are also less able to fend off, compensate for, mask, or recover from insect damage. Examples of weed, disease, and insect pest issues are provided on the Management Options web page of the NYS BMP website.
8.3.3 Use of Softer and Alternative Pesticides
IPM encourages the use of pesticides as a “last resort” when other methods of pest control prove to be inadequate. However, when pesticides are deemed necessary, an effective product least likely to harm human health or the environment should be selected. Other management options include using an alternative product, such as biological controls or reduced risk pesticides.
Biological control uses other living organisms to suppress or eliminate pests. Several organisms are known to have some efficacy against turfgrass pests and have been marketed as pest control products. These biological controls may act to suppress pest populations alone or work synergistically with other natural, cultural, physical, or chemical management methods. Examples of biological controls that are commercially available in New York State are provided in Table 4 below.
Table 4. Biological controls
|Bacillus licheniformis||Labeled for dollar spot management|
|Bacillus subtilis||Labeled for management of brown patch, dollar spot, powdery mildew, rust and anthracnose|
|Pseudomonas aureofaciens (strain TX-1)||Labeled for management of anthracnose, dollar spot, pink snow mold and Pythium|
|Bacillus thuringiensis||Labeled for management of caterpillars and white grubs in turf.|
|Paenibacillus popilliae and Paenibacillus lentimorbus||Cause “milky spore disease” and are labeled for management of Japanese beetle grubs in turf. Other strains cause milky spores in other species of grubs but are not commercially available.|
bacteriophora and Steinernema feltiae
|Effective against white grubs|
|Steinernema carpocapsae||Effective against cutworms and possibly annual bluegrass weevils|
Reduced Risk Pesticides
The EPA defines conventional “Reduced Risk” pesticides as having one or more of the following advantages over existing products:
- low impact on human health
- low toxicity to non-target organisms (birds, fish, and plants)
- low potential for groundwater contamination
- lower use rates
- compatibility with IPM
A number of reduced risk pesticides can be used on turfgrass in NYS (Table 5). Biological pesticides, which also have many of these desirable characteristics, are classified separately by the EPA.
Table 5. Reduced risk pesticides
|Category||Reduced Risk Pesticide|
8.4 Pesticide Selection
Pesticides are an integral component of progressive IPM programs. The use of pesticides is regulated by a number of state and federal agencies because of the concerns these compounds pose for human health and the environment. Selection criteria and evaluation tools can assist in selecting an appropriate pesticide when use is warranted while also protecting the environment.
When chemical control is needed, use the following criteria to help select the right pesticide:
- The pesticide must be registered for use in New York State.
- It must be properly transported, handled, and stored.
- It should be effective in treating the pest problem.
- The frequency of pesticide usage should be considered with respect to the possibility of chemical resistance.
- Costs should be considered.
- Environmental risk and potential for water quality impacts must be evaluated.
Each criteria to be considered in the pesticide selection process is explained in detail on the Selection Criteria web page of the NYS BMP website.
8.5 IPM Best Management Practices
- Identify key pests in the IPM plan.
- Determine the pest’s life cycle and know which life stage to target (e.g. for insect pests, whether it is an egg, larva/nymph, pupa, or adult).
- Train personnel how to regularly monitor pests by scouting or trapping.
- Monitor prevailing environmental conditions for their potential impact on pest problems.
- Observe and document turf conditions regularly, noting which pests are present, so that informed decisions can be made regarding the damage the pests are causing and what control strategies are necessary.
- Identify alternative hosts and overwintering sites for key pests.
- Assess pest damage when it occurs, noting particular problem areas, such as the edges of fairways, shady areas, or poorly drained areas.
- Document when the damage occurred. Note the time of day, date, and flowering stages of nearby plants.
- Establish injury and treatment thresholds levels for key pests and document them in the IPM plan.
- Document all pest control efforts, including non-chemical control methods and pesticide usage, to plan future management actions.
- Map pest outbreak locations to identify patterns and susceptible areas for future target applications.
- After treatment, determine whether the corrective actions reduced or prevented pest populations, were economical, and minimized risks. Record and use this information when making similar decisions in the future.
- Select turfgrass cultivars and species recommended for use in New York State and best suited for the intended use and environmental conditions of the specific site.
- Correct the soil’s physical and chemical properties that may impact turfgrass health and its ability to resist pests.
- Evaluate the potential impact of the timing of cultural practices and nutrient applications on the incidence of pest problems.
- Implement proper cultural, irrigation, and turf management practices to reduce stress and pressure of pest establishment.
- Maintain a proper fertilization schedule to improve turf density and quality and reduce pest populations.
- Always use pest-free materials, such as in topdressing.
- Address damage from turfgrass pests such as diseases, insects, nematodes, and animals to prevent density/canopy loss to broadleaf weeds.
- Divert traffic away from areas that are stressed by insects, nematodes, diseases, or weeds.
- When nematode activity is suspected, an assay of soil and turfgrass roots is recommended to determine the extent of the problem.
- Identify areas on the golf course that can be modified to attract natural predators, provide habitat for them, and protect them from pesticide applications.
- Install flowering plants that can provide parasitoids with nectar or sucking insects (aphids, mealybugs, and soft scales) with a honeydew source.
- Apply a preventative pesticide to susceptible turfgrass when unacceptable levels of disease are likely to occur.
- Evaluate use of biological control methods and reduced risk pesticides to treat the pest problem.
- Use a defined pesticide selection process to select the most effective pesticide with the lowest toxicity and least potential for off-target movement.
- Prioritize the selection of lower risk products whenever possible.
- Select low or non-volatile pesticides.
- Release insect-parasitic nematodes to naturally suppress insect pests such as white grubs.
- Avoid applying pesticides to roughs, driving ranges, or other low-use areas to provide a refuge for beneficial organisms.
Rotate pesticide modes-of-action to reduce the likelihood of resistance, following guidelines and advice provided by the Fungicide Resistance Action Committee (FRAC), Herbicide Resistance Action Committee (HRAC), and Insecticide Resistance Action Committee (IRAC).