Implementing integrated pest management in professional lawn care: a case study
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- Alumai, A., Grunkemeyer, M., Kovach, J. et al. Urban Ecosyst (2010) 13: 37. doi:10.1007/s11252-009-0102-2
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Human choices regarding land cover management practices may influence ecosystem services provided by urban green spaces. We conducted a 2-year study to compare biological (weed, insect, and disease), aesthetic (lawn quality), and economic (lawn care program cost) attributes of an integrated pest management (IPM) program, in which pesticides are applied on the basis of treatment thresholds, with a standard program, in which pesticides are applied on a calendar basis without pest monitoring. Both programs were managed by a professional lawn care operator. Although weed incidence was low, the IPM program had significantly more lawns with weed presence than the standard program during 2005 and 2006. However, only 21% of the IPM lawns required herbicide applications in 2005, and none exceeded the treatment threshold (5% weed cover) in 2006 as compared to 100% of the standard program lawns being treated for weeds in both years. The IPM program also had significantly more lawns with insect damage than the standard program during June 2005 and August 2005, but not September 2005 and throughout 2006. Only 28% of the IPM lawns required insecticide applications in 2005 and none exceeded the threshold (5% insect damage) in 2006 whereas all of the lawns in the standard program received insecticide treatments in both years. Rhizoctonia blight was present on some of the lawns, but was not a common problem. Although lawn quality was high for both programs (>8, on a scale of 1–9), it was significantly higher for standard than for IPM program lawns during 2005, and June 2006 and September 2006, but not August 2006. The annual lawn management costs were lower for the IPM ($281.50) than the standard program ($458.06). Thirty one percent of the IPM program customers who continued with the study in 2006 did so because they were satisfied with the IPM program. Among those who did not continue with the program, 33% cited weed or insect problems, while 33% expected better results. The implications of these findings for implementation of IPM in professional lawn care are further discussed.