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Issue No. 1, Article 2/March 21, 2008

An IPM Checklist for Commercial Corn and Soybean Production

Much has been written and discussed regarding the current status of IPM and its long-term significance in the commercial production of corn and soybeans across the Midwest. Is IPM a worn-out concept? Has it lost its luster and relevance in commercial corn and soybean production? Increasingly, scientists and policy makers have focused discussions on insect resistance management (IRM) because of the escalating use of transgenic Bt corn hybrids, particularly those with multiple events (stacked Bt hybrids).

The debate on whether transgenic Bt hybrids constitute an important component of an overall IPM approach, when characterized as a host plant resistance tactic, is too simplistic, and it misses the central theme of IPM--integration. Integration of multiple pest management tactics in commercial corn and soybean fields is occurring less frequently today. Rather, overreliance on Bt corn hybrids and use of a narrow spectrum of herbicides dominate the marketplace. The current favorable commodity prices will only intensify the use of crop production inputs, needed or not, as an insurance approach to pest control dominates the arena in which these decisions are made. Over the winter, many of us have heard the statement, "I can't afford not to treat."

Many scientists have offered definitions for IPM. One of our favorites was provided by R. L. Rabb in 1972: "Pest management is the intelligent selection and use of pest-control actions [tactics] that will ensure favorable economic, ecological, and sociological consequences." When we ignore the ecological and sociological consequences of our pest control actions, we do a disservice to agriculture.

Provided here is a checklist related to implementing IPM in corn and soybean fields. Respond to the statements, then add up your "yes" responses to determine where you stand with respect to IPM implementation.

IPM Implementation Checklist




I own and use the most current version of the University of Illinois Field Crop Scouting Manual.



I have a sweep net and used it weekly during the season last year.



I have a handheld magnifying glass and used it weekly during the season last year.



Last year, I used bait stations to sample for wireworms.



Last year, I used pheromone traps for at least one of the following insect pests: black cutworm, European corn borer, western bean cutworm.



My decision to plant or recommend the use of a Bt corn hybrid for control of corn rootworms in 2008 was based on recommended sampling protocols for adult corn rootworms in 2007.



In 2008, I will not plant a Bt corn hybrid based on the very low densities of European corn borer throughout much of Illinois in the fall of 2007.



I intend to implement or recommend the required refuge (20% non-Bt corn) for fields that will be planted to Bt corn hybrids in 2008.



In 2007, I scouted soybean fields for soybean aphids, familiarized myself with the economic thresholds, and elected not to treat or recommend treatment because densities did not reach threshold levels.



In 2007, I determined the defoliation levels in soybean fields, and I elected not to treat or recommend treatment for Japanese beetles or other defoliators because the injury did not reach threshold levels.



In 2007, I kept track of the phenology of corn and soybean insect pests based on accumulating heat units and timed my scouting efforts according to these measurements.



In 2007, I read the Pest Management & Crop Development Bulletin weekly to gain insight about the pest situation throughout Illinois.



Because of the low likelihood of secondary insect pests (e.g., grape colaspis, white grubs, wireworms) in my corn fields, I have elected not to use or recommend use of a granular soil insecticide with Bt corn hybrids in 2008.



In 2008, I have elected not to plant a Bt corn hybrid for rootworm control. However, I intend to use or recommend the use of a granular soil insecticide based upon scouting information for corn rootworm adults in 2007.



If I elect to use or recommend the use of any insecticide treatments in 2008, I intend to leave at least one check strip to evaluate the usefulness of the application.



I intend to use or recommend the use of a granular soil insecticide for corn rootworm control in 2008. In making a product selection, I decided to use a class of chemistry different from what I used or recommended in previous years.



When I use or recommend the use of a granular soil insecticide, I make sure that I have calibrated or recommended calibration of the planter to deliver the labeled rate.



Before I selected or recommended an insecticide or a Bt corn hybrid, I consulted several landgrant university Web sites to obtain product performance data.



When scouting corn and soybean fields, I walk into the fields some distance beyond the turn rows and take samples throughout the field before making any pest management decision for the entire field.



In 2007, I maintained the required number of certified crop adviser credits in IPM.



Your "Yes" Score Card

1-5 IPM is becoming a distant memory for you.

6-10 You have a faint IPM pulse.

11-15 You have not abandoned IPM. Positive steps are being taken, and some progress can still be made.

16-20 Congratulations on your pest management stewardship in corn and soybean fields!

--Mike Gray and Kevin Steffey

Kevin Steffey
Mike Gray

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