Integrated Pest Management

Improving vegetable productivity, quality, and profitability through integrated pest management

Agricultural pests—insects, diseases, weeds, and animals—are a serious problem for producers around the world. A study in India in 2004 by Reddy and Zehr reported average loss rates of 25% for maize and rice, 25-30% for vegetables, 30% for pulses, 35% for sorghum and millet in the field. Post-harvest losses from pests are equally high. Depending on yield levels in any particularly year, this level of loss can mean devastating economic losses for farmers. Plant and animal migration, wind, and water spread pests across borders: from one field to another or one nation to another. Pests can also be transported by human activity, especially trading of plant and animal products. While local knowledge has often been sufficient to manage local pests, globalization has increased trade and transport, facilitating the spread of crop pests internationally.

Applying pesticides can be an effective approach to pest management, but they have risks. Improper pesticide use can also be dangerous to humans and the environment. Pesticide runoff pollutes waterways, affecting marine ecosystems and drinking water. According to the International Water Management Institute, about seven percent of the three million pesticide poisoning cases per year are fatal. Most cases occur in developing countries where both safety measures are few and awareness of health risks is low. And, while pesticides target specific pests, they often also kill the beneficial plants or insects that manage pest populations. Pesticides are also expensive for poor farmers in developing countries.

The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) develops and implements approaches that offer economical and environmentally friendly ways to control pest populations, reduce agricultural losses, and raise living standards of small farmers.  Started in 1993, and now in its fourth phase, the IPM Innovation Lab (formerly IPM CRSP) both researches new IPM methods and trains farmers in the application of these techniques. Among its many successes, the IPM Innovation Lab has developed strains of a fungus called trichoderma to fight fungal diseases that attack the roots of many vegetable crops. In India, a new high-yielding and disease-resistant variety of eggplant has been introduced. Women have been trained to graft the new variety onto seedlings, and this work now earns them money to pay for household expenses.

For more information:

IPM Innovation Lab Phase IV (2009-2014)

The International Affairs Offices
526 Prices Fork Road (0378)
Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061-0378
TEL: +1-540-231-3516; Fax: +1-540-231-3519

Muni Muniappan, Director

IPM CRSP Phase III (2005-2009)
IPM CRSP Phase II (1999-2004)
IPM CRSP Phase I (1993-1998)