Scouting or monitoring—the regular inspection of your plants or crops to determine whether pests are approaching a damaging level—is the backbone of IPM. Growers often say they scout, but it often isn't systematic or regular. Setting up a good monitoring program is a cost-effective way to get started in IPM.
In order to set up an effective monitoring program, it's important that you gather certain baseline data (such as soil type and fertility levels, the history of pest problems, and the effectiveness of past control measures) along with other pertinent information, such as weather conditions. This data will help you understand the context within which your pest problems are occurring.
Numerous tools are available to enable you to have ongoing access to critical weather information. These range from a simple min/max thermometer
, to "site-specific" daily weather reports, to on-site weather stations
. Other good sources of information for the data you need are your local Extension agent, your agchem dealer, independent crop consultants, and/or some Cooperative Extension web sites.
Another important step in setting up a monitoring program is to determine who will do the monitoring. It is best to have the same person monitor your crops or plants throughout the season.
It is also critical that you keep good written records so you have precise data on which to base your management decisions. Written records will also help you compare one season to the next.