other management components of agronomic systems such as crop fertilization, cultivation, cropping patterns, and farm economics. Such alternative farm-management strategies that promote soil and plant health, and water quality were recommended by the National Research Council in their report Alternative Agriculture (National Research Council, 1989b).
Ecologically based pest management (EBPM) is recommended as a profitable, safe, and durable approach to controlling pests in managed ecosystems.
Early agriculturalists faced serious pests that decimated crops. Through trial and error, they implemented practices that challenged such pests. Successful strategies predominantly were those that served to maintain the ecological balance of the region and the natural balance of agricultural pests and their enemies. This committee believes that such practices, combined with the advanced biological technologies now available, are the most logical approach to developing a profitable, safe, and durable (long-lasting and self-maintaining) approach to pest management. The systems, hereafter identified as ecologically based pest management (EBPM), as outlined by this committee, rely primarily on inputs of pest biological knowledge and secondarily on physical, chemical, and biological supplements for pest management. The EBPM systems will be built on an underlying knowledge of the managed ecosystem, including the natural processes that suppress pest populations. It is based on the recognition that many standard agricultural practices disrupt natural processes that suppress pests. In contrast to standard practices that disrupt and destabilize the agroecosystem, agricultural practices recommended by EBPM will augment natural processes. These practices will be supplemented by biological-control organisms and products, resistant plants, and narrow-spectrum pesticides.
The concept of EBPM builds on the cultural and biological approaches to pest management that were in use prior to the widespread application of synthetic chemical pesticides. Many practices, such as crop rotation, fallowing, intercropping, and incorporation of organic matter into soils, served to conserve and foster populations and activities of biological control agents that were indigenous components of traditional agricultural ecosystems; nevertheless, pest outbreaks and crop and animal disease epidemics did occur. Through trial and error, early agriculturalists discovered and used natural substances, beneficial organisms, and selected resistant plants to their benefit. These early agriculturalists laid the foundation for pest management based on the biology of the ecosystem. The EBPM system builds on these earlier approaches but uses advanced technological tools and methodologies to improve the knowledge base and, where necessary,