Cooperative Extension
MG Manual Home
Water Quality and Use


Previous Previous

  MG Manual Reference
Ch. 16, pp. 16 - 18

[Intergrated Pest Management: ipm | example | cultural | biological ]


Although cultural control is often associated with mechanical operations such as tillage or burning, cultural control involves many aspects of crop and soil management, including crop rotations, time of planting and harvesting, trap cropping, and crop diversification. Since cultural control is primarily aimed at prevention and reduction of pest outbreaks, the results of these practices are often unseen and difficult to quantify. When cultural control practices are easily integrated with other cultural practices, they are usually readily adopted by gardeners. However, when cultural control practices require significant modification in gardening practices, the advantages and disadvantages must be weighed carefully. Although cultural practices alone may not give completely satisfactory pest control, they are important in minimizing pest injury and should be considered in any integrated control program designed to protect groundwater quality.
Cultural practices which limit the need for chemical use include:
Crop rotation - Crop rotation systems offer numerous advantages in soil structure, fertility and erosion management, as well as aiding in control of various pest species. Crop rotation for pest management consists of a planting scheme alternating susceptible and insusceptible crops. The necessary interval between susceptible crops depends upon the length of life cycle, reproductive potential, degree of specificity, and dispersal characteristics of the target pest. This approach is most useful for fairly immobile, soil-dwelling pest species, and also those pests with a restricted host range or a life cycle of one year or more. The value of crop rotation is limited in control of highly mobile insects.
Planting and harvest dates - Planting and harvest dates of some crops can be altered to reduce or avoid potential pest damage. Early planted corn is far less susceptible to corn earworm damage than late planted crops. Late planted corn is also more susceptible to corn borer damage.
Sanitation - Sanitation is a broad term which includes a variety of practices aimed at removing food and shelter from pests during critical life stages, or the physical destruction of pests through cultural practices. This approach is particularly effective against pests which spend part of their life cycle in the soil, such as corn borer and the common stalk borer. Fall tillage which buries crop residues destroys the overwintering habitat of the pests. Removal of weeds around crop borders can help reduce common stalk borer infestations because this insect utilizes a wide spectrum of weed hosts. Burning of crop residues has been used historically for cultural control of various pests, but air quality concerns are reducing the use of this practice.
Trap crops - Trap crops are used effectively against many insect pests, including the Mexican bean beetle and the bean leaf beetle. Early maturing bean varieties can be planted 10 days to two weeks prior to planting the main bean crop. The adult beetles are attracted to these early maturing trap crops and are then sprayed with an insecticide. While this technique still relies on insecticidal control, the amount of area treated is greatly reduced. Adjusting row spacing is also an effective cultural control measure for reducing corn earworm infestations. By using narrow row spacing, the canopy closes over the soil quicker, reducing the attractiveness of the crop to host-seeking corn earworm moths.

Next Next
Search Index Comment

This site was developed for the Arizona Cooperative Extension, College of Agriculture, The University of Arizona.
© 1998 The University of Arizona. All contents copyrighted. All rights reserved.