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Home > Feature Articles > Landscaping > Plants and Habitat Strategies for Sustainable Landscaping

Integrated Pest Managment is common sense gardening and farming

Ecologically based pest control, an alternative to chemical pesticides that pollute water, air and soil.

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Integrated pest management (IPM) focuses on long-term prevention of pest problems through a combination of techniques such as identifying and monitoring pests, keeping records, using nonchemical practices and understanding pest biology. Pesticides that pose the least possible harm to people and their environment are used only when needed. Integrated pest management is a scientific approach to nature's balance of natural predators and natural habitat to make gardening and farming a natural, healthful process for both the earth and the resulting food and natural resources.

University of California Statewide IPM Program web site at

Children and Pesticides

The Healthy Schools Act Due to concerns about potential exposure of California children to pesticides, the Healthy Schools Act was passed in 2000. Under the Healthy Schools Act, each school must keep records of every pesticide application for a period of four years except for pesticides exempted from the requirement. These ecords must be available to the public upon request. In a Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) survey of California school districts, conducted in 2004, results show that at least 13 percent of school districts did not keep these records.(SOURCE: California EPA, Department of Pesticide Regulation, School IPM Program:

School IPM Alliance

Schools in California face many challenges educating children, including the use of pesticides in schoolrooms and on school grounds. With the growing concern about pesticide use and passage of the Healthy Schools Act, many school districts have begun to adopt IPM practices, but lack adequate information and training.

One of the basic green practices is reduction of chemicals...especially pesticides, which provide health risks to the people working in the garden or farm fields as well as the people who eat the produce. Every insect has a natural predator that keeps populations in check. But pest management isn't a simple process in our complex urban and agricultural culture.

Ecologically based pest management (EBPM) is a small, but growing part of modern farming. According to the National Academy of Sciences, "EBPM" is a total systems approach to pest control rather than product-based that minimizes negative effects on non-target species and the environment.

Experienced entomologists monitor the insect populations in a location, and then treat imbalances with natural remedies -- those remedies can be beneificial insects (natural predators), or natural materials that are not harmful to the ecosystem or animals, including people.

Transitioning from chemical to biological methods takes some knowledge and patience...but the rewards pay for themselves with better quality crops and a renewal of the natural balance of nature's system -- which includes plants as well as insects in natural population ratios.

Local IPM Resources

Dietrick Institute for Applied Insect Ecology provides training for farmers and farmworkers in biological control., Ventura, California.

Rincon-Vitova Insectaries, Inc. is one of the oldest ecological American companies that supplies products and services to farmers and gardeners who care about using effective and sustainable technologies. This California company was founded by Gwyn and Everett Dietrick, known as the founders of biological pest control for commercial farming. They research problems, solutions and raise the beneficial insects to ecologically restore a working biological system. Ventura, California.

  • Over 70 species of predators and parasitoids find and destroy plant pests.
  • Specific plants provide habitat for beneficial insects.
  • Monitoring tools aid in early pest detection and evaluation of natural biological control forces. Assessment natural enemies provides useful insight for the progress of biological control forces.
  • Botanical and microbial products tip the balance in favor of natural enemies during the sometimes tough transition from chemical to biological methods

Agricultural sectors that are working to change the balance of pesticide dependence

The California Winegrape Pest Mangement Aliance

Winegrapes are grown on more than 427,000 acres by 4,400 growers in 42 of California's 58 counties. Two key pest management issues in this crop are the human health problems associated with sulfur drift and herbicides such as oxyfluorfen, simazine, and gramoxone. Herbicides such as simazine and diuron also pose risks to surface and groundwater. This group promotes sustainable practices within the $1.89 billion winegrape industry.

Almond Pest Management Alliance

California is the only state in North America that commercially produces almonds. Approximately 6,000 growers in the state produce three-quarters of the world's almonds on about 600,000 acres extending from Chico to Bakersfield. Almond growers currently rely primarily on organophosphate and pyrethroid insecticides to control the crop's key pests, the navel orange worm and peach twig borer. The Almond Alliance, composed of growers, UC researchers, and pest control advisers, was formed in 1998 to evaluate and demonstrate least-disruptive pest management practices.

The Prune Alliance

California's 1,400 prune growers produce about 200,000 dried tons annually on 86,000 acres, or 99 percent of all prunes nationwide. The Prune Alliance was established in 1998 to expand and strengthen existing efforts to implement reduced-risk pest management practices.

The Walnut Alliance

The Walnut Alliance was established in 1998 by the Walnut Marketing Board to evaluate and demonstrate commercial walnut production using reduced-risk pest management practices.

Pest Management Alliance for the Containerized Nursery Industry

In 1999, the red imported fire ant was found in Southern California and all nurseries in Orange County were placed under quarantine. As a result, growers transporting nursery products must use selected pesticides to meet quarantine requirements for this introduced pest and the glassy-winged sharpshooter, another new pest. This has resulted in organophosphate pesticide use 70 times above normal in Orange County alone. The impact is increased potential for movement of pesticides into surface water and greater likelihood of worker exposure. Alliance researchers demonstrate and foster monitoring and treatment practices such as bait application as viable reduced-risk alternatives.

Citrus Pest Management Alliance

In Southern California, two key pests of citrus, the citrus thrips and California red scale, can be managed through biological control. However, the more extreme environmental conditions in the San Joaquin Valley interfere with effective biological control, and growers usually rely upon inexpensive, readily available organophosphate and carbamate insecticides. As citrus thrips and California red scale develop resistance to these insecticides, growers have substituted reduced-risk insecticides.

Environmental Justice

Fair treatment means that no one group of people, including racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic groups, should be disproportionately impacted by pesticides. There is growing awareness that some communities and neighborhoods are at greater risk of chemical exposure than others. Pesticides are a major part of this concern. The use of Integrated Pest Management -- and ecologically friendly pest controls are the best overall method currently known to reduce chemical exposure across ALL our communities.

Environmental Justice is addressed by the following governmental organizations:

  • California Air Resources Board
  • California EPA: Cal/EPA
  • California Department of Toxic Substances Control
  • California State Water Resources Control Board
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Department of Pesticide Regulation
1001 I Street, P.O. Box 4015
Sacramento, CA 95812-4015
General information: 916-445-4300

The advisory board for xxxx is a good source of local resources about School IPM. You'll find the contact info for these representatives of the issue at: A few of the Southern California members include:

Nancy Adalian
Vice President for Health
*California State Parents Teachers Association
930 Georgia Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015
fax: 213/620-1411

Marta Arguello
Environmental Health Coordinator
*Physicians for Social Responsibility
1316 Third Street Promenade, Suite B1
Santa Monica, CA 90401
213/689-9170 extension 101
fax: 213/689-9199

Phil Boise
IPM Program Manager
*Urban/Ag Ecology Consulting Services
41 Hollister Ranch
Gaviota, CA 93117
fax: 805/962-9080

Nancy Chuda
Children's Health Environmental Coalition (CHEC)
P. O. Box 846
Malibu, CA 90265
fax: 310/589-5856

David E. Hedman
Chairman/Chief Executive Officer
Precision Environmental, Inc.
Environmental Safety Contractors
180 Canada Larga Road
Ventura, CA 93002
fax: 805/388-6107

Judy Letterman
Executive Director
*Pesticide Applicators Professional Association (PAPA)
P.O. Box 80095
Salinas, CA 93912-0095
fax: 831/442-2351

Mitzi Shpak
Action Now
2062 Lewis Avenue
Altadena, CA 91001

Robina Suwol
Executive Director
California Safe Schools
P.O. Box 2756
Toluca Lake, California 91610

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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