Integrated Pest Management

Table of contents

    Weeds, insects and diseases can limit the production potential of canola. To minimize their impact on yields, use an integrated control program that includes a combination of prevention strategies and cultural, physical and chemical controls.

    An integrated control program

    The goal of using integrated pest management (IPM) is to achieve effective management of pests by using all the tools that are available, in the safest manner possible that enhances the sustainability (environmental, economic and social) of the farm. IPM uses all the tools that are available for controlling pests, including the use of chemical, cultural, mechanical and biological tools. It does not mean exclusively relying on one technique (such as exclusively using herbicides for weed control).

    IPM is not a new concept. Most canola growers are using several IPM tools. The challenge of IPM is to pull together better “toolkits” to improve integration of the IPM tools. IPM is much more than just scouting a field to assess the pest populations and make a decision of whether to spray or not, and it is rarely useful when practiced in isolation or in the short term. Growers will be more successful with IPM if steps are taken each year to ensure good crop health and to prepare for individual IPM techniques. There are four steps involved in implementing an IPM program:

    • Prevention – Practices that reduce the severity of pest infestation or prevent pest build-up
    • Monitoring and forecasting - Determining what pests are present and what action is required to manage pests
    • Intervention – Actions to reduce the economic crop damage from pests
    • Record keeping – Maintaining a field record system for effective planning

    Underpinning all four of these steps is the grower’s ability to accurately identify pests. By knowing the pest and its lifecycle, growers can plan control programs to exploit weaknesses in pest lifecycles and use the most effective management strategies.

    In canola, IPM includes the use of clean healthy vigorous seed, crop rotations, pest monitoring and resistant varieties. It also includes using crop protection chemicals judiciously. IPM aims to minimize the impact of pest on the crop, while maximizing the return from using different pest management tools, in a sustainable manner that takes care of the farm environment.

    Examples of IPM techniques and their value

    Careful Use of Crop Protection Chemicals
    IPM TechniquesValue

    Estimate how much of a crop protection program is composed of chemical techniques and how much is non-chemical

    Non-chemical techniques like crop rotation, sanitation and pest prevention minimize dollars for pesticides and amounts of crop protection chemicals applied

    Calibrate applicator Accurate calibration ensures that pesticides are not wasted through over-application or under-application
    Spray only when wind conditions are safe Spraying under safe wind conditions minimizes off-target drift and impact on non-target organisms
    Spot spray insect of spraying the whole field Spot spraying prevents pests from becoming a larger problem throughout the field and controls pests with a minimal amount of pesticide
    Use “buffer zones” (no-spray zones around sensitive areas) A buffer zone prevents pesticide contamination of environmentally sensitive areas like sloughs and woodlands
    Time spray applications to avoid pollinators (bees, etc.) Spraying in the evening or when the crop is not in flower prevents impact on pollinators and many beneficial insects

    Scouting, Economic Thresholds and Record Keeping
    IPM TechniquesValue

    Scout for pests at the end of the previous season and at all key times throughout the following season

    Start scouting for canola pests the previous fall and resume from early spring seeding through to podding. This alerts growers to problems as early as possible.

    Scout fields in-season to check for insect, weeds and disease before spraying Scouting can lead to a decision that a field may not need to be sprayed or may only require spot applications (and thereby reducing pesticide use)
    Frequent scouting for insects and disease Provides an early warning and allows maximum time to control pests
    Make a “no spray” decision based on low pest levels Allows growers to avoid spraying when it is not necessary, does not pay off, or will unnecessarily increase selection intensity for pest resistance
    Use diagnostic tools, kits and weather monitoring to help with spray decisions Assists in decisions to spray or not. Excellent kits and disease maps are available for diseases such as sclerotinia, grasshoppers, etc.
    Keep records of pest levels and spray decisions Allows for a post-season review of how effective the control measures was and allows growers to prepare integrated plans for the next season

    For details on the application of integrated pest management strategies to specific insects, canola diseases and weeds, please see the Canola Encyclopedia sections on insects, diseases and weeds.