The health of a plant is determined by its environment. This environment includes physical factors (i.e. sun, rain, wind and soil nutrients) and biological factors (i.e. pests, diseases and weeds). All these factors can play a role in the balance which exists between herbivore insects and their natural enemies. If we understand the whole system of interactions, we can use this knowledge to reduce the negative impact of pests and diseases.
Decision making in Integrated Pest Management requires a thorough analysis of the agro-ecosystem. Participants in IPM training will have to learn how to observe the crop, how to analyze the field situation and how to make the proper decisions for their crop management. This process is called the Agro-Eco-System Analysis (AESA).
When participants of IPM training learn to do an agro-ecosystem analysis (AESA) they will make a drawing on a large piece of paper, in which they include all their observations. The advantage of using a drawing is that it forces the participants to observe closely and intensively. It is a focal point for the analysis and for the discussions that follow, and the drawing can be kept as a record.