Integrated Pest Management
Natural pest control was practiced for generations before pesticides were even around. When pesticides were introduced to farming, a lot of these holistic practices were stopped altogether. IPM's goal is to reduce the reliance on pesticides and reintegrate holistic practices back into farming.
Beneficial insects that prey on certain pests are introduced directly or by the addition of companion plants that attract them. Companion plants can also be used to repel pests. These methods are often used together in a technique called "Push-Pull".
The basis of Integrated Pest Management is to manage the ecological environment and discourage unwanted pests. This means using clean seeds, maintaining healthy soil, creating good drainage, and using crop rotation methods. These practices create a balanced ecosystem and help maintain pH level, bacteria level, and nutrient richness.
Barriers, nets and traps are used to prevent pests from getting into crops. Workers use these methods to control pest populations by moving them to other locations. Potential food and habitat sources such as rotting vegetable matter or weeds are also removed.
Selecting the right crop for the right environment is essential. Many plants have been selectively bred over many generations. This is done by extracting seeds from the crops that exhibit the most desireable characteristics.
Farmers don't want pesticides on their final product any more than you do. However, if pest populations become unmanageable and the crop is in danger, the farmer may decided to do a spray treatment. This is done only after an "Economic or Action Threshold". This is the point when repairing the damage done to a crop will cost more than doing a spray treatment. In these cases, spray treatments are only applied to the affected area. Sometimes, farmers may also spray their crop in the early stages when the plants do not bear fruit. These processes are called "Low Spray". Farmers will choose what method is most effective to their specific situation. Today, because of a higher demand for organic produce, many farmers are using organic pesticides in order to reduce the overall use of chemicals.