Integrated Turfgrass Pest Management:  An Overview

When setting pest management priori• ties, turfgrass management professionals must consider five factors:  human safety, environmental safety, turf use(s), efficacy, and economics.  The goal of an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program is not the eradication of all pests from the management

area.  The entire turfgrass stand is the man• aged area, regardless of size-a small yard, an athletic field, or a large public park, industrial complex, or golf course.  It should be viewed as an ecosystem. As a rule, the most effective IPM programs use an interdisciplinary approach.

In turf, pest thresholds vary.  They depend on site characteristics and uses. However, integrated turfgrass management programs have several key premises common to all:

  1. Best Management Practices (BMPs) should be used for initial design, installation, and maintenance programs. Pesticides are not a substitute for good management.


  1. No single pest control method will be successful over the long term.


  1. Constant monitoring will allow you to evaluate the status of pests and the turfgrass.


  1. The mere presence of a pest does not justify taking action to control the pest.


  1. Eradication (complete elimination) of pests is not necessary and is generally not possible.


  1. Healthy turfgrass can withstand greater damage or pressure from pests than turfgrass in poor condition. In addition, healthy stands recover more quickly when problems do occur.


  1. When a pesticide will be used as part of an IPM program, safety (for the applicator, the site’s users, and the environment) is the primary consideration.


  1. Take steps to remedy the cause(s) of pest outbreaks. Do not just continue to treat the symptoms.


  1. A risk assessment approach is the best way to develop pest management strategies for key locations, such as ”high profile” and sensitive areas.


A good pest management program pre• vents pest problems whenever possible.  In turfgrass, such programs begin by selecting high quality, disease- and insect-free varieties.  When possible, plant or install resistant varieties.  Choosing the right variety for the site and use(s) is essential. Next, good cul• tural practices provide the best conditions for plant health.  Proper maintenance involves managing nutrition and pH, thatch, watering, and mowing.

Remember that environmental stresses weaken plants.  Imbalances in light, temperature, moisture, and soil conditions produce abiotic disorders.  Unhealthy plants are much more vulnerable to pest pressure.  Healthy plants are less susceptible to damage from pathogens, insects, and mites.  They also are more able to compete with weeds.