Field monitoring or crop 'scouting' is the backbone of Integrated Pest management (IPM) programs, as efficient pest management depends on timeous and field specific information. Scouting is in essence the regular (need to walk through a crop) inspection of field crops for the presence of pests, or any possible problem that could hamper crop growth. The aim of scouting is to give the farmer the 'hands-on' assessment of the pest populations in the field at that time, so that remedial action can be taken if required. Scouting includes the following:
Making accurate identifications of pests and related crop injury present in the field.
Allows growers to measure the pest pressure within a field.
Establish monitoring guidelines.
Evaluate and consider all available management strategies.
Thus, before suitable pest management decisions can be made, the farmer has to obtain a complete assessment of the pest population levels in the field. Different crop pests have different 'threshold' incident numbers per plant, or per plant row, before chemical control action should be implemented. The farmers need to know the recommended threshold levels for each of the pests on their crop before they begin to spray expensive pesticides.
A sustainable, science based decision making process that combines biological, cultural, chemical and physical tools to identify , manage, and reduce risk from pests and pest management tools and strategies in a way that minimizes overall economic, health, and environmental risks.