AGECO 457: Principles of Integrated Pest Management (Fall 2017)

The goal of this course is to introduce upper level undergraduates and graduate students to the principles and practices of integrated pest management (IPM).


  • Plant Science


AGECO/ENT 457 Principles of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is the integrated study of pest complexes and their management, emphasizing ecological principles drawing from examples from a range of agricultural, forestry, and urban systems. This course is designed for advanced undergraduate students and graduate students. It will be a mixture of lectures and presentations by outside speakers supplemented with field trips and team-based projects to provide real-world context for key concepts. The Canvas course management system will be used to manage this course. Handouts, slides, and supplemental reading material will be made available on Canvas.

Course Logistics

Dr. Ed Rajotte, Professor, Department of Entomology
508 ASI Bldg | (814) 863-4641 |
Office hours: By appointment

Dr. Beth K. Gugino, Associate Professor, Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology
204 Buckhout Lab | (814) 865-7328 |
Office hours: By appointment

Genna Tesdall, M.S. student, Dept. of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology

Office hours: By appointment

Class Meeting Times: Tues/Thurs | 9:05-10:20 a.m.
Class Location: 111 Tyson Bldg
Prerequisites: Must have taken two or more of the following: ENT 313, PPEM 405, PPEM 300 or HORT 238/AGECO 438
No. of Credits: 3
Course Text: Norris, R.F., E.P. Caswell-Chen, and M. Kogan. 2003. Concepts in Integrated Pest Management. Prentice Hall.
Web Resources: Canvas | Pennsylvania IPM Program | American Phytopathological Society

Course Goals

There are two major goals of this course. One is to introduce students to the principles and practices of integrated pest management. This course addresses IPM issues concerning insects, plant diseases and weeds in agriculture, natural systems, and urban environments. Rooted in ecology, IPM also addresses the influence of human social, economic, and regulatory systems in pest management. The overarching goals of environmental protection, economic viability, and social welfare are considered throughout the course. The second goal is to apply IPM knowledge to real-world pest problems by interacting with pest managers in several different systems.

Course Objectives

  • To understand the strategies and tactics of IPM, including biological, cultural, regulatory, mechanical and chemical/biopesticidal, pest monitoring, and decision making.
  • To understand how IPM decisions are made and factors that influence the decision-making process.
  • To learn about IPM program implementation, both domestically and internationally.
  • To apply knowledge gained to solve actual pest management problems.

Course Grading

Midterm exams (2, 15% each) 30
Final exam 15
Group IPM project (70% report, 25% oral presentation, 5% group participation) 25
Random quizzes (6-7) 10
Field trip attendace and reports (3 total) 15
Class attendance, discussion, and participation 5

Letter grades will be assigned based on the points that you earn. Class participation, attendance, and other factors can be used to adjust your overall grade.

A 93-100
A- 90-92
B+ 87-89
B 83-86
B- 80-82
C+ 77-79
C 70-77
D 60-69
F <60

Course Assignments

  • Random quizzes: Students will have 5-8 minutes to answer 2-3 short-answer questions based on content previously taught in the course. The lowest quiz score will be dropped at the end of the semester.
  • Field trip reports and discussion. Following each of three field trips, students will be expected to write a 2- to 4-page report that describes key IPM tactics observed, stakeholders, etc. Additional instructions will be provided along with a field trip handout. A thought question, provided at the end of the field trip, will be used to initiate the field trip discussion.
  • Semester-long team project. Students will form into approximately 6-7 teams tasked to complete a semester-long group IPM project. Project progress will be reported throughout the semester with a final video presentation and written report at the end of the semester.
    Major project components will include:
    1. IPM problem selection;
    2. stakeholder group identification and contact;
    3. benchmarking and strategy;
    4. development of IPM recommendations to address problem.

Course Schedule and Reading Assignments

1 8/22 Course introduction
Framework for mgt
Rajotte chp 1
8/24 Framework for mgt
IPM continuum
Rajotte chps 18 (pp 471-473) and 19
Intro to Student Farm (15-20 min) Guest: student intern OR Leslie Pillen, Sustainable Student Farm Design Coordinator, Penn State
2 8/29 Field Trip: Penn State Student Farm All

Student Farm Field Trip: discussion



chp 8 (pp 172-197); online reading (see below)


Diagnostics: strategy, techniques, and tools of the trade

3 9/5 Semester projects: brainstorm topics, form teams, and build stakeholder list All
Student Farm field trip report due
9/7 Preventative strategies (insects and diseases) Gugino chps 15-17; online reading (see below)
Assign topic for biotech discussion on Sept. 21
4 9/12 Disease ecology and epidemiology: knowledge is critical for IPM Gugino chp 5 (pathogen and nematode parts)
9/14 Mid-term Exam 1
5 9/19 Insect ecology, population dynamics, dispersion, and interactions Rajotte chps 2 (pp 15-17) and 5 (pp 90-122) insect parts
9/21 Student discussion: biotech in IPM All
6 9/26 Thresholds and economics (insects and diseases - forecasting) Rajotte chp 8 (pp 197-202); online reading (see below)
9/28 In-season disease management tools: now what? Gugino chp 11; online reading (see below)
7 10/3 Project report back: stakeholder identification and problem specification All
10/5 Hot topic: IPM, pollination, and ecosystem services Guest: Dr. David Biddinger, Dept. of Entomology, Penn State online reading (see below)
8 10/10 Biological control (tentative) Rajotte chp 13
10/12 Weed ecology (tentative) Guest: Dr. Bill Curran, Dept. of Plant Science, Penn State
9 10/17 Industry perspective on IPM (tentative) Guest: Ken Martin, Director Ag Operations, Furmano Foods Inc.
Guest: Dr. Brenna Aegerter, Farm Advisor, UC Cooperative Extension, San Joaquin County
10/19 Mid-term Exam 2
10 10/24 Social Science: Barriers to Adoption Guest: Dr. Melanie Miller-Foster, Office of Int'l Programs, Penn State online reading (see below)
10/26 Project report back: benchmarking and preliminary strategy All
11 10/31 Penn State Research Greenhouse IPM Strategy Guest: Scott DiLoreto, CAS Greenhouse Manager, Penn State
11/2 Field trip: Penn State Ag Greenhouses All
12 11/7 Greenhouse field trip: discussion All
Open/Project Time
11/9 Mushroom IPM Guest: John Pecchia, Director MRC online reading (see below)
Greenhouse field trip report due
13 11/14 Field trip: Penn State Mushroom Research Center All
11/16 Mushroom field trip: discussion Rajotte/Gugino
Assign topic for discussion on Nov. 28
14 11/20-11/24 Thanksgiving Break
15 11/28 Student discussion: the pest management balancing act: IPM, CCD, FSMA, GAPs... Rajotte Supplemental readings to be assigned on Nov. 15
Mushroom field trip report due
11/30 Group IPM project video presentations All
16 12/5 International IPM Rajotte
12/7 OPEN All
Student final reports due
17 12/11-12/15 Finals Week

Lecture order is subject to change based on guest speaker availability.

Course Online Reading Assignments

Aug 31 Supplemental information about major pathogen groups (Bacteria, Fungi, Oomycetes)
Introduction to the Major Pathogen Groups

Plant Disease Diagnosis
Plant Disease Diagnosis

Sept 7 Plant Disease Management Strategies
Plant Disease Management Strategies

Sept 12 Plant Health Progress article
Cucurbit Downy Mildew ipmPIPE: A Next Generation Web-based Interactive Tool for Disease Management and Extension Outreach

Journal article
The Use and Role of Predictive Systems in Disease Management. Annual Review of Phytopathology 51: 267-289.

Sept 28 Fungicides and Biological Control
What Are Fungicides?
Biological Control of Plant Pathogens

Oct 5 Journal article
Integrated pest and pollinator management - adding a new dimension to an accepted paradigm. Current Opinion in Insect Science DOI:10.1016/j.cois.2015.012

Oct 24 PDF files of these three articles are available on CANVAS:

  • Miller, M.J., M.J. Mariola, and D.O. Hansen. 2008. EARTH to farmers: Extension and the adoption of environmental technologies in the humid tropics of Costa Rica. Ecological Engineering 34: 349-357.
  • Miller, M. and M.J. Mariola. 2009. The discontinuance of environmental technologies in the humid tropics of Costa Rica: Results from a qualitative survey. Journal of International Agricultural and Extension Education 16: 31-42.
  • Rogers, E.M. 2003. Chapter 1: Elements of diffusion in Elements of Diffusion, 5th ed. Free Press, New York, NY. pp. 1-38.

Nov 9 Mushroom Production
Six Steps to Mushroom Farming

Dec 5 International IPM
Evaluation of Integrated Pest and Disease Management Module for Shallots in Tamil Nadu, India: a Farmer’s Participatory Approach

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