Strategic Integrated Pest Management
By Jay Bruesch
Pest management should be less like a war and more like a well thought-out game of strategy. Instead of reacting to pest infestations with an armory of chemicals, integrated pest management is about getting to
know your opponents’ strengths, weaknesses
and typical behaviors. Rather than waiting to
get rid of problems once they are established,
you must keep your opponents from advancing in the first place by thinking proactively.
This is especially key in organic facilities,
which have limited use of many conventional
pest controls. Below are some tips on how to
think more strategically and less reactionary
when it comes to pest management.
The Rules: The NOP’s Built-In Pest
The National Organic Program standards
are a great starting point for developing your
pest management strategy. The Facility Pest
Management Standard (the portion of the
National Organic Program text pertaining directly to pest management) gives clear guidance on what is and is not allowed in organic
facilities, and provides a framework for how to
prevent and deal with problems in a way that
is most eco-friendly. Unlike conventional, reactionary pest-management thinking, which
often skips right to the chemical solutions,
the key to integrated pest management for organic processors is to focus on steps (a)
though (c), and in most cases by doing this
you will avoid the later steps.
Paragraph 205.271 of the regulation requires organic facilities to manage pests by:
a. Practicing effective sanitation and exclusion in order to remove the resources attracting pests and allowing them to survive,
and to deny them access and harborage.
b. Modifying the physical environment (light,
air movement, temperature, humidity) in
ways that make the facility less attractive to
pests, or less conducive to their survival.
c. Using mechanical devices, such as traps, to
remove pests. Traps may attract pests by
means of light (e.g., insect light traps),
trap design (e.g., the tunnel configuration
of a multiple-catch mouse trap) or the
presence of a pheromone (e.g., a stored-
product moth trap utilizing a synthetic sex
attractant to lure male moths).
d. If the practices mentioned above are not
adequate to prevent or control pests, then
a pesticide whose active ingredient is
named as an “allowed” substance on the
National List may be applied. (The Na-
tional List, paragraphs 205.600 through
205.606 of the NOP rules, names sub-
stances that are allowed—and prohibited.)
Pesticide active ingredients named on the
National List include boric acid, insectici-
dal soaps, horticultural oils, non-syner-
gized pyrethrins, synthetic pheromones
and elemental sulfur. A number of com-
mercially available pest control products
contain active ingredients consistent with
the National List.
e. If all other means have been utilized
and/or all the previous steps have been
considered and found inadequate to pre-
vent or control pests, then—and only
then—a material not named on the Na-
tional List can be used. However, the mate-
rial must be applied in such a way that no
contact can occur between it and the or-
ganic food (or food-contact surfaces).
Prior to using any substance not on the
List, it must be approved by your organic
certifier, and named within your facility’s
organic handling plan, along with how and
when the material would be used. This en-
sures that you are not using any materials
that have been prohibited by the NOP.