By Erin Lizotte
Integrated pest management is a critical and integrated part of modern-day agriculture. Many of us don’t even realize that most, if not all, of the practices we use to manage pests on the farm are based on IPM practices developed through research.
The concept of IPM was born out of the environmental movement of the 1970s, which resulted in large part from the publication of Dr. Rachel Carson’s 1962 book, “Silent Spring.” The environmental costs of pesticide use could no longer be ignored and the federal government began to invest in better regulation of pesticides and the development of IPM strategies that were economically viable and minimized negative impacts on human health and the environment.
The basis of most IPM systems involves utilizing a combination of management strategies to suppress pests to an economically tolerable level and often includes the judicious use of pesticides. IPM is comprehensive and always progressing as new research improves our understanding of ag systems. IPM also evolves to address new challenges like invasive pests.
Over the last few years, Michigan growers have requested more flexible and accessible online content to continue their IPM education and earn pesticide recertification credits. In response to those requests, Michigan State University Extension offers a new online course specially developed for Michigan producers to hone their IPM skills and increase their adoption of innovative practices on the farm.
The Desire to Learn IPM Academy is an interactive, online program to provide a comprehensive and convenient learning experience. It also offers growers the flexibility to earn pesticide recertification credits on their own schedule, from the comfort of their own home and at an affordable price.
The course is a combination of videos, resources and interactive content that features many Michigan State University experts. Current topics include:
• introduction to IPM
• IPM resources at MSU
• plant science
• Soils 101
• identifying and conserving natural enemies
• conserving pollinators
• using Enviroweather to assist IPM program decisions
• scouting in greenhouses
• scouting in perennial crops
• scouting in vegetable crops
The Desire to Learn platform is easy to use and includes a full-service help center with 24/7 technical support. To participate, a computer with an updated web browser, speakers and internet access are required. Users can complete a systems check via the Desire to Learn help page to determine if their computer is capable of running the course.
The total cost of the course is $10, payable online at the time of registration. Upon course completion, certified pesticide applicators in Michigan can request six credits (1A, 1B, Commercial Core or Private Core). Participants can also print a certificate of completion.
For more information, refer to the registration instructions online. It may take up to 24 hours for access to the course site to be granted. Contact the help desk 24/7 at 517-432-6200 or toll-free at 884-678-6200 for assistance.
Accommodations for persons with disabilities may be requested by contacting Erin Lizotte; all videos include closed captioning.
Lizotte writes for MSU Extension.