IPM Implementation on School Grounds

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A three-year project at the North Syracuse Central School District is complete. In partnership with Paula Shrewsbury at the University of Maryland, we conducted systems comparisons to determine the efficacy and cost effectiveness of low risk treatments to manage weed, insect and disease pests on public school grounds. To reduce reliance on chemical applications, we chose alternative pest management practices that integrate cultural and biological treatments and emphasize use of low risk products. While the use of pesticides can provide timely, effective reduction of pest problems, they may also have a negative impact on the environment and the health of humans and other non-target organisms. There is no longer any argument that pesticide use on school grounds can be a risk to children’s health. By their physiological nature, children are more susceptible to pesticide exposure than adults when they work and play in school settings where pesticides have been applied. Public opinion varies in intensity regarding the reduction of pesticide use, but nationwide, legislators are increasingly supporting the process of Integrated Pest Management. School districts throughout the northeast and nationwide are reluctant to use pesticides. With concern over health issues and the likelihood of future mandates on use, schools require the information to make informed decisions about the economic and environmental impacts of their choices. Non-pesticide alternatives may require increased labor. Our project goal was to assess the success and costs involved in the reduction of chemical use including labor, equipment and low risk or alternative products, thereby increasing our ability to make recommendations regarding the time, cost and success of implementing IPM strategies. We examined pest and cultural management practices and resulting quality on athletic fields, fencelines, lawns, curbs and sidewalks, ornamental beds and trees, and along building edges. In each of these settings, site areas were paired - one received conventional treatments (current standard practices at the discretion of staff) and the 2 other received alternative IPM treatments incorporating low-risk pest management methods. Specific treatment recommendations were prescribed, and the actual implementation tracked. The difference between attaining all project goals and the practicality of day-to-day demands on school district labor and budget will vary from district to district.

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New York State IPM Program


Community IPM; Schools; Athletic Fields; Turfgrass; Landscapes; Communication


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