Controlling pests, weeds and diseases is something that all farmers must do in order to produce enough affordable food. While the use of chemistry is perceived negatively by the public, there are many other methods and tools that a farmer can employ to ensure the protection of the environment and public health.
IPM allows farmers to draw on a range of tools to manage weeds, pests and diseases. Cultural (or non-chemical) control methods can be employed alongside pesticides to help reduce the reliance on chemical inputs. While the active ingredients used in pesticides are under threat from withdrawal or resistance, new cultural control techniques are being developed all the time.
Over the past 20 years the number of active ingredients available to farmers has reduced from around 900 to just 300. It is likely that around 100 of the remaining chemicals will be withdrawn in the near future, with very few new chemicals being brought to market.
Whilst many of these cultural control methods are based on traditional farming practices, innovative technologies have allowed these to be developed further.
Limiting the reliance on chemical control methods is a clear benefit for nature. Whilst the precautions taken to limit negative impacts on non-target species and aquatic habitats are strictly enforced, finding new and better ways of controlling pests and diseases will ensure the health of our natural environment in the long term.
The government have identified specific goals in the national pollinator strategyto "keep ongoing research on IPM under active review, to identify specific practical advice on supporting pollinators for promoting to farmers and growers".