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Thursday, Aug 22, 2019

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Ohio University establishes landscape and turf pest management plan


 Ohio University has approved an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Plan for the Athens Campus that will utilize decision-making approaches to employ biological, cultural, physical and chemical tactics to manage landscape and turf pests in a way that minimizes risks to humans and the environment.

Pests, in relation to grounds management, include plant diseases, insects, fungi, bacteria and weeds. This plan is an effective, economical, and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management.

“The IPM Plan is a significant step forward for the campus, and another example of teaming for success,” said Steve Wood, Chief Facilities Officer. “The plan provides a road map that creates a ‘win-win’ for sustainability principles and cost-effective operations while maintaining campus aesthetics.”

OHIO Landscape Coordinator Susan Calhoun created the plan in partnership with Steve Mack, Interim Executive Director of Facilities Management, as well as with her colleagues in the Grounds Department, Environmental Health & Safety and the Office of Sustainability.

Graduate Student Meg Little, who completed her Master’s Degree in Environmental Studies in 2019, was Tree Care Coordinator in the Office of Sustainability and worked alongside Calhoun in developing and writing the IPM Plan. Wood approved the final draft of the Ohio University Pest Management Plan in June.

The core values of IPM include a four-tiered approach: 1) set action thresholds, 2) monitor and identify pests, 3) prevent or remove conditions that attract pests, and 4) control.

This approach necessitates understanding pests’ habits, life cycle and needs; monitoring the pest's activity and adjusting methods over time; tolerating harmless pests; and using the least toxic methods first, up to and including pesticides.

Among the efforts of the OHIO Grounds Department that cumulatively provide an award-winning, aesthetically-pleasing and safe environment for the campus community, including receiving Tree Campus USAdesignations three years in a row, is the management of landscape and turf pests to protect against loss or damage to university plants.

Grounds operations are rooted in ecological stewardship principles that support healthy and diverse ecosystems, with the Department committed to creating and maintaining landscapes that support a range of beneficial insects and other wildlife.

In addition to the IPM Plan, Ohio University has Campus Tree and Landscape Care Procedures grounded in Sustainable Landscape Management practices. Grounds Services strives to plant native and adaptive, drought-tolerant and low maintenance plants throughout campus. With trees, particular emphasis is placed on preservation of canopy cover to mitigate heat island effect, provide carbon sequestration and to clean and absorb storm water.

The campus community is committed to serving as a leading-edge laboratory for sustainability, with benchmark 26 of the Sustainability Plan requiring the University to adopt a plan to practice Integrated Pest Management. The Grounds Department IPM Plan is part of the larger effort to promote sustainable practices and assessments across campus.