Podcast celebrates 50 years of integrated pest management progress

Join researchers and educators as they reflect on the past, present and future of integrated pest management.

A man squats down in a soybean field.
Photo by MSU Extension

In 1972, the first large scale IPM (integrated pest management) research project was launched to address growing concerns related to the negative impacts of widespread pesticide use. This research project pulled together the concepts of dozens of cross-disciplinary studies that formed the basis of IPM and included the identification and role of natural enemies in agriculture systems and pest modeling to better assess crop risk and identify treatment opportunities. Entomologists led the initial IPM charge, helping create legislation (Senate Bill 1794) to fund research in this innovative arena.

This critical federal funding supported two major research projects, the Huffaker Project and the Consortium. By the mid-80s, these projects led to the adoption of IPM practices on over 14 million acres of agricultural land and increased farmer net profits by an estimated $578 million annually. The 80s and 90s saw continued progress in IPM research and development with the generation of hundreds of decision-making tools and IPM tactics that improved the environmental and economic sustainability of farms.

During the 90s, several critical IPM infrastructure resources were developed, including pest diagnostic technology, weather-based modeling systems and an increased number of dedicated research and outreach faculty working to expand IPM adoption on farms. These resources have continued to improve in the 21st century as technology and accessibility expands.

The future of IPM is hopeful despite many challenges including climate change, invasive pests and pesticide resistance. IPM also faces substantial challenges in educating the public about the true costs and benefits of adopting or not adopting available pest management technologies. As our understanding of the natural world and agricultural systems improve, so will our ability to develop IPM strategies that produce safe, healthy and environmentally responsible food.

To learn more about the history and future of IPM in our north-central region, check out the special 50th Anniversary of IPM episode series on the IPM Central Podcast. This podcast is available on most major podcast platforms as well as Michigan State University Extension’s Integrated Pest Management website.

Special thanks to all the north-central region university faculty and agency staff for sharing their stories.

This work is support by the USDA, National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the North Central IPM Center.

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