Food webs and phenology models: evaluating the efficacy of ecologically based insect pest management in different agroecosystems
Integrated pest management (IPM) is defined as an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of common-sense practices. Integrated pest management programs use current, comprehensive information on the life cycles of pests and their interactions with host plants and the environment. This information, in combination with available pest control methods, is used to manage pest populations by the most economical means, and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment. True IPM takes advantage of all appropriate pest management options including, as appropriate, the judicious use of pesticides. It is currently estimated the IPM in its full capacity is being practiced on less than ten percent of the agricultural land in the U.S.
The primary objective of this research was to evaluate land management decisions and create new tools to promote a true IPM approach and encourage growers to reevaluate their method of insect control. To accomplish this I developed new predictive tools to reduce or eliminate unnecessary insecticide application intended to target cereal leaf beetle in wheat, and assessed a conservation biological control technique, farmscaping, to determine its true impact on lepidopteran pest suppression in collards.