Biologically based Integrated Pest Management (B-IPM) integrates, or combines, different management tools to provide better leafy spurge control than any single tool could produce.
The foundation for this B-IPM approach is biological control: Biocontrol agents like the host-specific leafy spurge flea beetle are integrated with other tools -- such as multi-species grazing programs, herbicides, reseeding, tillage, burning and clipping -- to produce effective, affordable and ecologically sustainable leafy spurge control. B-IPM offers the flexibility landowners and land managers need to devise different management strategies for different situations.
1. Herbicides are the most commonly used control tool, and are the preferred tool for containing and preventing the spread of infestations. Disadvantage: Herbicides are expensive -- the cost of treatment can exceed the value of the land and/or the economic return from the land. In addition, herbicides are not target specific and are subject to environmental restrictions.
2. Cultural and mechanical controls such as reseeding, clipping and burning can be used to give desirable grasses and plants a competitive advantage while reducing leafy spurge’s dominance. Disadvantage: Cultural controls are generally not practical for large scale infestations, and no single tool offers the "perfect" solution.
3. Multi-species grazing can provide leafy spurge control while increasing ranch profitability by diversifying cattle grazing operations with sheep or goats. Disadvantage: Most ranchers do not have the equipment needed for sheep, or are not interested in sheep.
4. Biological control is another tool that can be used to manage leafy spurge and offers some advantages when compared to "traditional" management tools.
These factors make biocontrol an attractive alternative for long-term, sustainable leafy spurge management. In addition, biocontrol works well when used with other tools in Integrated Pest Management strategies. It can be used in areas that are environmentally sensitive or difficult to access with sprayers, and as such, can often provide the perfect compliment to other management tools. But best of all, biological control is effective, affordable, sustainable, target specific and easy to use.
Disadvantages of biological control: Like other management tools, biological control is not a perfect solution to the leafy spurge problem. The biggest drawback is that biological control is not a "quick fix." In most cases, biocontrol agents will take several years to successfully establish a population and begin making a significant contribution to leafy spurge management. In addition, no one biocontrol agent works in every situation. (See Targeting below) An agent that works well in one soil type, for example, may not work at all in another soil type. In the long run, more than one type of biocontrol agent may have to be used to achieve uniform control across a variety of different situations and land types.