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Conservation Practices that Save: Integrated Pest Management


By incorporating integrated pest management (IPM) techniques into their operations, agricultural producers can reduce energy use and environmental risk while maintaining the quality of their agricultural products. For example, some cherry producers have abandoned traditional spraying schedules and now spray based on in-the-field microclimate information obtained from monitoring equipment and scouting. With a 25 percent reduction of fungicide or insecticide applications, this can reduce pesticide cost by about $40 per acre.

farmer searching for pests on field

Scouting for pests, including weeds, diseases, and insects, is a key component of integrated pest management.

IPM is environmentally responsible and economically practical crop protection. IPM includes prevention, avoidance, monitoring, and suppression of weeds, insects, diseases and other pests. IPM combines biological, cultural, and other alternatives to chemical control with the planned use of pesticides to keep pest populations below damaging levels, while minimizing harmful effects of pest control on humans and natural resources. The practice is site-specific in nature, based on approaches suited for the particular crop, pest, and location.

IPM is appropriate for most types of agriculture. It can reduce production costs and energy use while improving the quality and quantity of crops from cranberries to cotton. The techniques also can help improve water quality, air quality, and soil quality. As part of a conservation management system, IPM contributes to the overall prosperity of the farm and the quality of the environment.

Selecting crop varieties that are most suitable to local growing conditions helps reduce pest-related damages. When conservation practices, such as crop rotation and pest management techniques, are used in conjunction with naturally occurring predators, insects, and pathogens, pest populations are further suppressed. In addition to pest control, IPM activities help:

• Reduce pesticide losses from runoff and leaching;
• Reduce pesticide residues in crops; and
• Reduce energy use and production costs.

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NRCS supports conservation practices that save producers money and improve the environmental health of the Nation. For more information on energy-saving conservation practices, visit the NRCS “Save ENERGY, Save MONEY” Web site at

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