Integrated pest management

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The term "Integrated Pest Management" (IPM), implies integration of approaches and methods into a pest management system, which takes into consideration the ecology of the pest(s) and of the crop. When IPM principles are applied to a given pest problem, the intention is to minimise environmental impact and economic risks.

Insect and mite pests and diseases are among the important constraints to sweetpotato production. When these problems become severe, the yield may significantly be reduced and/or the quality of storage roots may be affected thus reducing marketability. However, pest problems vary from one place to another so implementation of IPM should be tailored to meet the local needs. The following are general methods in controlling pests and diseases of sweetpotato. Any of these could be integrated depending on their availability and suitability in the area.

Cultural control

Cultural methods can significantly contribute in controlling or reducing damage caused by pests and diseases in the sweetpotato crop. These include the following:

  • Selection of cultivars/varieties. Use cultivars which are resistant or tolerant to pests and diseases and with high marketability.

  • Use of clean planting materials. Planting material is often the primary source of pest infestation or disease. Select vine cuttings that are free of soil, insects, insect eggs or any sign of insect presence, and any disease symptoms.  It is good to establish and maintain a nursery for production of planting materials to provide continuous source of more disease-free and insect-free mother roots or cuttings.

  • Field sanitation. Plant residues often serve as source of pest infestation and inoculum of disease-causing organisms, affecting  succeeding or neighbouring crops. Removal of all crop residues is recommended.  These may be composted or fed to cattle or hogs. Removal of weed species which serve as alternate hosts also helps reduce population build up of pests and disease inoculum.

  • Crop rotation. Continuous planting of sweetpotato will encourage population build up of the pests and inoculum of disease-causing pathogens. Planting sweetpotato before or after vegetables or cereals may reduces incidence of insect and mite pests and diseases attacking sweetpotato.

  • Hilling up. Hilling up reduces the incidence of weeds and prevents exposure of storage roots to weevil infestation.
  • Mulching. Mulching using rice straw or plastic mulch reduces weevil population and weed infestation.
  • Timely harvesting. This is especially true for sweetpotato weevil management since weevil populations build up when harvesting is delayed, especially during the dry season.

Biological Control

Beneficial organisms such as predators, parasitoids and entomopathogens help maintain the ecological balance of sweetpotato ecosystem.  A number of arthropod pests are preyed upon by arthropods, parasitised by other insects, and most of them are attacked by bacterial, fungal or viral pathogens. Specific weeds may be controlled by insects with specialized feeding habits. In some instances, a biological control agent may be introduced by the farmer.  In other cases, it is a matter of understanding and encouraging the naturally occurring beneficial organisms.

Chemical Control

Pesticides are the most readily recognized method of pest management. However, in sweetpotato pest management, pesticides should only be used when necessary. The risks and benefits attributed to pesticides to the sweetpotato ecosystem should be the main point to consider.

Generally pest populations recover more quickly than those of their predators and parasitoids, so pesticide use can actually increase pest problem. Continuous unjudicious use of pesticides creates a lot of problems such as development of pesticide resistant biotypes and strains, resurgence of secondary pest outbreaks and health hazard to the users.


Amalin, D.M. and E.A. Vasquez. 1993. A handbook on Philippine sweetpotato arthropod pests and their natural enemies. International Potato Center (CIP), Los Baņos, Philippines. 82 pp.

Harold R. Willson. 1992. OPMS Circular: FC-1 IPM. Department of Entomology. The Ohio State University.

Talekar, N.S. 1990. Integrtated pest management of sweetpotato weevil. A Training Guide. AVRDV. Taipei. 10 pp.

Vasquez, E.A and C.E. Sajise. 1989. Pests of Sweet Potato: Insects, mites and disease. PRIS and PRCRTC, Visayas State College of Agriculture, Baybay, Leyte, Philippines. 66 pp.

Contributed by: Erlinda Vasquez and Vilma Amante

Land preparation

Planting material preparation


Soil management

Water management

Vine lifting


Postharvest practices


Related topics

Insect and mite pests



Beneficial organisms