Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a comprehensive approach to pest control that focuses on long-term prevention and minimizes the use of harmful pesticides. By integrating various techniques such as biological control, cultural practices, and habitat manipulation, IPM offers an eco-friendly and sustainable solution for managing pests. In this blog post, we will delve into the fundamentals of IPM, explore foliar and root drench recipes, and discuss the science behind their effectiveness.
What is Integrated Pest Management?
UC Davis Defines IPM as:
“Integrated pest management (IPM) is an ecosystem-based strategy that focuses on long-term prevention of pests or their damage through a combination of techniques such as biological control, habitat manipulation, modification of cultural practices, and use of resistant varieties. Pesticides are used only after monitoring indicates they are needed according to established guidelines, and treatments are made with the goal o removing only the target organism. Pest control materials are selected and applied in a manner that minimizes risks to human health, beneficial organisms, and the environment.”
Foliar Recipes for IPM
All of these recipes use AGSIL16H, so you'll need to know how to mix that prior to whipping these up. Here's how you do it: I use an old plastic Protekt bottle but you can use whatever you have handy. Just add 140 Grams of Agsil16H and 32 Ounces of water then shake it like crazy. This bottle will now sit on the shelf and be used for the preparations below. If you want to make 1 Liter or 1 Gallon at a time, then follow these mixing amounts. You just need to use one of these recipes per week and remember to always wear a mask when spraying essential oils!
Foliar sprays are a vital part of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for maintaining plant health. They involve applying a liquid solution directly to the leaves, allowing for nutrient absorption, protection, and pest control. These sprays deliver essential nutrients, micronutrients, and biocontrol agents precisely where they are needed, minimizing the use of conventional pesticides. Additionally, natural compounds like essential oils can be used in foliar sprays to repel pests and disrupt their feeding and growth. Timing and application methods are important considerations for optimal effectiveness. By incorporating foliar sprays into your IPM strategy, you can enhance plant health, provide targeted pest control, and reduce reliance on conventional pesticides.
Foliar Recipe #1: Neem Oil +Agsil16H 7.8% + Aloe Vera + Essential Oils (Use During Lights Out Only)
This is the go-to IPM foliar spray for weekly use, but variations of this recipe can be used. We will list them below. If you aren't sure which to use, then just use this first one and you’ll be fine.
- 1 Gallon Clean Water (Botanical Tea can also be used–See recipe below)
- 1 Tablespoon Neem Oil
- 1-2 Teaspoons 7.8% Potassium Silicate Solution (Agsil16H)
- ½ - 1 Ounce of Essential Oils (Rotate different combinations each week–You can use a variety of oils: Rosemary,Eucalyptus, Ginger, Lemongrass, Thyme, Clove, Cinnamon, Peppermint etc.)
- 1/4 Cup Pure Aloe Vera Juice (or 1/8 Teaspoon 200x Aloe Powder per gallon)
Directions for mixing:
The key is to get the Neem Oil Properly emulsified so that it sprays evenly or else this spray won’t be nearly as effective. Here are a few pointers to get this emulsified correctly. Use warm water but not hot (75-85 degrees Fahrenheit). I like to add 1 cup of the gallon of water into a Protein Shaker cup with the round wire whisk ball for mixing, but you can use a whisk and a regular cup, a blender or whatever you have on hand. Using the shaker cup or whisk helps to ensure the Neem Oil is emulsified (mixed evenly throughout the water).
- Emulsify 1 tablespoon of Neem oil using 1-2 teaspoons of 7.8% Potassium Silicate solution in warm water.
- Add the emulsified solution to the remaining water.
- Stir vigorously and add the essential oils of your choice.
- Spray the plant thoroughly, ensuring the underside and top of every leaf are covered.
- Use a sprayer with a wand for better coverage. We like the Chapin model 1949. This type of sprayer will allow you to effectively coat your entire plant. Use the wand and work your way from the bottom to the top spraying the underside of every leaf and once done, turn the wand over and spray the top of every leaf, completely saturating the canopy until the plant is weeping and ready to fall over from the weight of the foliar spray.
- Spray just before or after lights off to prevent the essential oils from burning your plants. Essential oils are especially reactive to light so be sure to spray at lights out–not just a couple hours before lights on.
Foliar Recipe #2: Neem + Agsil16H + Aloe
- 1 Gallon Clean Water
- 1 Tablespoon Neem Oil
- 2 Teaspoons Agsil16H 7.8% Solution
Foliar Recipe #3: Agsil16H + Essential Oils
- 1 Gallon Clean Water
- 0.5 - 1 Ounce of Essential Oils
- 1-2 Teaspoons Agsil16H
Foliar Recipe #4: Dr. Bronner’s Style Soap + Essential Oils
- 1 Gallon Clean Water
- 1 Ounce of Dr. Bronner’s Plain Soap
- 0.5 - 1 Ounce of Essential Oils (Halve the amount if using scented soap like peppermint or lavender)
Foliar Recipe #5: Neem Cake, Karanja Cake, and Kelp Meal
- Aerate overnight.
- Spray plants.
Botanical Tea Recipe for use in place of water in the above recipes:
I also make fresh teas using different plant leaves–lavender, spearmint, peppermint, oregano, thyme, borage, comfrey and my new favorite, yarrow. In fact, when I spray with neem oil rather than mixing with plain water, I use a botanical tea in its place. –Jim Bennet (aka Clackamas Coot)
- Take a couple cups of fresh leaves, chop, puree, or grind them.
- Add the leaves to 4-5 gallons of water and let it sit for up to 2-3 days, stirring occasionally or bubbling with an air stone.
- Strain the tea and use it for foliar applications or as a soil drench.
Root Drench Recipes for IPM
Root drench recipes are a crucial component of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for promoting plant health. Unlike foliar sprays, which target the leaves, root drenches involve applying a liquid solution directly to the root zone of plants. This method ensures the delivery of essential nutrients, beneficial microorganisms, and protective compounds directly to the root system. Root drenches play a significant role in correcting nutrient deficiencies, improving soil health, and enhancing plant resilience. By nourishing the roots and fortifying the plant from within, root drenches contribute to a strong and thriving garden while minimizing the need for conventional pesticides. Implementing root drench recipes in your IPM strategy allows for effective plant health management and sustainable pest control.
Root Drench Recipe #1
Per 5-gallon bucket:
- 4 Gallons of clean water
- 1 Cup Malted Barley Grain (ground to a fine powder in a coffee grinder or food processor)
- 1/2 Dose of Ful-Power Liquid Fulvic Acid from Bio Ag
- Add the 1 cup of ground Malted Barley Grain to one gallon of water and bubble for 12-24 hours or longer.
- Strain the gallon of Barley Enzyme tea that you just bubbled into your bucket of 3 additional gallons of clean water.
- Add the half dose of Ful-Power Liquid Fulvic Acid.
- Use this solution immediately.
Root Drench Recipe #2
Per Gallon of Clean Water:
- Add 1/4 cup Pure Aloe Vera Juice and water your plants.
Root Drench Recipe #3
Per Gallon of Clean Water:
- Add 1/4 cup Pure Young Coconut Water and water your plants.
Root Drench Recipe #4
Per 4-5 Gallons of Water in a bucket:
- Bubble 1/2 cup of Kelp Meal for 24 hours and use once per week.
*If you're watering your plants 4 times per week then use Recipe 1,2,3,4 and then repeat. If you're watering more than 4 times per week, space out the recipes above and use plain water in between.
So Why Do These Recipes Work?
So why do these elements work as ingredients in foliar and root drench recipes for integrated pest management (IPM)? When considering the effectiveness of Neem and Karanja, essential oils, Potassium Silicate, Chitinase, and Salicylic Acid in plant defense, it's important to delve into their unique properties and modes of action. Understanding why these elements are valuable components of IPM strategies can shed light on their ability to combat pests, enhance plant health, and contribute to sustainable pest control.
First, let's hear a quote from our consultant and friend Jim Bennet, regarding the effectiveness of the amendments that we love to use:
Maybe sharing different approaches will be helpful for everyone, i.e. taking a different look at making the best use of the materials you have to work with.
Neem (or Karanja) products are at the center of my IPM program. Neem meal (aka cake) is used in the soil mix and I also use it to make a tea in conjunction with kelp meal. As a bio-nutrient accumulator, neem meal is on par with the heavies like alfalfa, kelp, comfrey, borage, stinging nettles, etc., and what distinguishes one from another are the unique compounds that they create. Only brown kelp species create Alginic Acid & Mannitol. Alfalfa creates Triacontanol but Comfrey does not, and so on, and so on.
Neem creates over 360 compounds of which around 30 function as a pesticide and/or fungicide. So, with this one material I have two problems covered. Another compound that we want to see in our soil is an enzyme called Chitinase (Pronounced Kite-In-A's). Many organisms create this enzyme including bacteria. The reason that we add crab meal is for the Chitin (Kite-In). As bacteria degrade this polysaccharide, this enzyme is created and it's this enzyme that gives us the pesticide benefit–not the Chitin directly.
Well, in my studies I learned that sprouted seeds release this enzyme that was encoded by the parent plant. So, besides the enzymes that enhance the resin levels, the enzymes teas play a role as a growth regulator by degrading the eggs preventing the larva from maturing.
I also top-dress the containers with a mix of chopped leaves with vermicompost. Plants that I've used successfully include comfrey, borage, peppermint, spearmint, oregano, rosemary, thyme, stinging nettles and always a bit of neem meal. Having that layer prevents a number of problems as far as insects & equally important the powdery mildew curse in the PNW.
I also make fresh teas using different plant leaves - lavender, spearmint, peppermint, oregano, thyme, borage, comfrey and my new favorite, yarrow. In fact, when I spray with neem oil rather than mixing with plain water, I use a botanical tea in its place. Some of the compounds in these leaves will kill on contact, whereas neem oil does not. It works in a completely different way. So by using botanical teas as the base you're getting a double whammy against the invaders.
Besides spraying above the soil, I also lightly mist the top of the soil with any combination that I mentioned.
Powdery Mildew free since 2009 and as close as you can get to being free of Spider Mites in the PNW for over 2 years. The results speak for itself.
–Jim Bennet (aka Clackamas Coot)
Neem and Karanja
Neem and karanja are two powerful natural resources that have been extensively used in organic farming practices, making them valuable components of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies.
Neem (Azadirachta Indica) is a medium-sized, drought-tolerant evergreen tree native to South Asia. It has a long history of use dating back to the Vedic period and is known as "Sarva Roga Nivarini," meaning "the curer of all ailments." Every part of the neem tree - the bark, leaves, flowers, and seeds - has diverse uses. Scientific research has revealed that neem extracts can influence nearly 300 species of insects, including pests that have become increasingly resistant to pesticides. Neem products act through multiple mechanisms such as repellence, deterrence, growth inhibition, mating disruption, and chemo-sterilization. These effects make Neem an effective non-violent approach to pest management, as it incapacitates pests rather than killing them instantly. Neem's efficacy extends beyond agriculture, as it also holds great potential in addressing environmental concerns like flood control, soil erosion reduction, reforestation, and rehabilitation of degraded ecosystems.
Karanja (Pongamia Pinnata), also known as Indian Beech, is another tree that plays a significant role in sustainable farming practices. It has been traditionally used for various purposes, including traditional medicines, animal fodder, green manure, and fuel. Karanja seeds contain significant bioactive compounds with properties such as anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant. When used in combination with neem, karanja has shown to be 70 times more effective in both oil and cake forms. Additionally, karanja acts as a natural "green manure" or organic fertilizer, controlling nematode populations, optimizing soil microflora, reducing the use of chemical fertilizers and insecticides, and improving water-holding capacity and crop quality.
Both neem and karanja products are completely biodegradable, leaving no harmful residues and having no adverse effects on humans or non-target organisms like bees and ladybugs. They also exhibit efficacy against various soil pests and harmful fungi, making them valuable tools for sustainable pest control in IPM. Their natural composition, rich in essential nutrients like NPK and micronutrients, not only aids in pest management but also enhances the overall strength, flavor, and product-life of crops.
Neem and karanja are essential components of IPM strategies. Their non-toxic and eco-friendly nature, coupled with their multiple modes of action and numerous benefits, make them highly effective alternatives to conventional pesticides. By incorporating neem and karanja into your IPM approach, you can promote sustainable pest control while safeguarding plant health and the environment. Integrated Pest Management is a holistic and environmentally conscious approach that harnesses the power of natural resources like neem and karanja to maintain the long-term productivity and sustainability of agricultural systems.
Essential oils have emerged as valuable tools in integrated pest management (IPM) strategies, offering effective and sustainable pest control. Through extensive research, certain essential oils have been identified as highly effective in combating pests and molds/mildews. These include rosemary, eucalyptus, ginger, lemongrass, thyme, clove, cinnamon, peppermint, caraway seed, and citronella. However, it's important to note that essential oils should be used with caution, as high doses can potentially harm plants, especially when applied while lights are on. To maximize their efficacy, it is recommended to use essential oils during lights out only, and at concentrations of around 0.5% to 1% by volume. Prior testing in a small amount is also advised to ensure compatibility. Several studies have explored the effectiveness of essential oils as green pesticides, highlighting their potential in pest and disease management. For instance, research has assessed the efficacy and persistence of rosemary oil as a miticide/insecticide for greenhouse tomatoes, as well as the anti-fungal activity of plant extracts and essential oils against Botrytis cinerea. By harnessing the power of essential oils in IPM approaches, farmers and gardeners can adopt a more environmentally friendly and sustainable approach to pest control.
Potassium Silicate (AGSIL16H)
Potassium silicate is a highly beneficial ingredient in integrated pest management (IPM) strategies, with its effectiveness supported by regulatory bodies and research. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has exempted potassium silicate from tolerance requirements for pesticide chemical residues in food, as long as it is applied within specific guidelines. The EPA has registered potassium silicate as a biopesticide, recognizing its fungicidal, insecticidal, and miticidal properties. It serves as a broad-spectrum, preventative fungicide, offering optimal control when used as part of a scheduled preventative spray program. Additionally, potassium silicate helps suppress mites, white flies, and other insects, making it approved for use on various agricultural crops, fruits, nuts, vines, turf, and ornamentals. The FDA considers silica and silica gel, including potassium silicate, to be generally recognized as safe (GRAS) and states that they pose no known hazards to the public when used at current or expected levels. Furthermore, potassium silicate is listed as an allowed synthetic substance under the National Organic Program (NOP) regulations, permitting its use in organic crop production for plant disease control and as an insecticide or miticide, with the condition that the silica used is sourced from naturally occurring sand. With its regulatory approval and effectiveness, potassium silicate plays a valuable role in integrated pest management approaches, providing a safe and sustainable solution for managing pests and diseases in agricultural practices.
Chitinase is an enzyme that plays an important role in integrated pest management (IPM) strategies. We can obtain it by using Crustacean Meal in our soil mix or by using Barley Seed Tea. When plants face physiological and environmental changes, they become more vulnerable to diseases caused by fungi and insects, which can harm not only the plants but also the entire ecosystem. To combat these diseases, scientists are focusing on chitin, a major component in the structure of these harmful organisms. Chitinase is the enzyme responsible for breaking down chitin, and it is being studied for its potential use as a natural pesticide or as a defense mechanism in genetically modified plants and microbial agents. By understanding the properties of chitinase, we can improve the effectiveness of biocontrol methods, develop new strategies for disease control, and strengthen the plant's ability to defend itself. Chitinases come in different types, each with its own specific abilities, so it's important to find and use chitinase that can target a wide range of sources. To make the most of chitinase, we need to know the right conditions for its use and find ways to increase its production through genetic engineering. By combining these efforts, we can fully utilize the power of chitinase and enhance plant defense in integrated pest management approaches.
Salicylic Acid and plant SAR
Salicylic acid and systemic acquired resistance (SAR) are important for plants to protect themselves against diseases. SAR is like the immune system in animals and helps plants fight off pathogens. When plants recognize harmful microbes, they activate SAR, which triggers a defense response throughout the entire plant. This response is effective against a wide range of pathogens and is often referred to as "broad spectrum" resistance. To activate SAR, plants accumulate a natural compound called salicylic acid. Salicylic acid acts as a signal, telling the plant to activate its defense mechanisms. SAR has been observed in many types of plants and is a valuable tool in integrated pest management strategies. However, it's important to note that certain diseases in specific plants may not respond well to common treatments. Overall, understanding salicylic acid and SAR helps us better protect plants from diseases and pests.
In a nutshell, integrated pest management (IPM) is all about taking a comprehensive and eco-friendly approach to pest control. It's like a long-term prevention plan that keeps harmful pesticides in check. Now, when it comes to dealing with those pesky pests, foliar and root drench sprays are the real superheroes. These sprays work wonders by targeting the pests directly and giving plants the protection they need. By using natural ingredients like neem and karanja oil, essential oils, potassium silicate, chitinase, and salicylic acid, these sprays kick those pests to the curb. They mess with the pests' life cycles, make them think twice about feeding and laying eggs, and even stunt their growth. The best part? These sprays are totally safe for the good bugs, animals, and the environment. So, when it comes to integrated pest management, these sprays are the secret weapons to keep our gardens healthy and our planet happy.