Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why should I use IPM PRiME? What is the incentive for growers and crop advisors?

    While pesticides are invaluable tools for food and fiber production, pesticide use presents risks that must be carefully managed. Much progress has been made to reduce pesticide risks, including many new reduced-risk products and proven mitigation strategies. Ready access to this information will help reduce adverse impacts and improve environmental stewardship. IPM PRiME is designed to evaluate pesticide risks and risk reduction strategies using the best available science in an easy-to-use format. IPM PRiME will help growers and crop advisors make more informed choices on practices and products that will reduce the environmental impact of high risk pesticide applications.

    Please review our license agreement for complete terms of use. The current version of IPM PRiME produces risk rankings that are subject to change in response to scientifically defensible updates to the underlying toxicity, physical-chemical, or other parameter or functional values. Our goal, currently a work in progress, is to provide time-stamped risk results that reference the crucial values in place at the time

  • What is my investment to use IPM PRiME?

    Ordinary accounts are free of charge. However customizations, analyses of large, complex data are subject to negotiated fees. At present, ordinary accounts permit you to store information about your sites and pesticide applications, upload spray records, and view results. The features of the ordinary account are evolving to better serve stakeholders.

  • Why contribute or donate to IPM PRiME?

    Contributors can join the PRiME team and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Unilever, US EPA Regions V and IX, General Mills and others who have supported the development of PRiME.

  • Can all crop producers use IPM PRiME?

    Yes. IPM PRiME’s current database includes thousands of pesticide products registered in the U.S. for use on apples, grapes, potatoes, tomatoes, strawberries and green beans, but you can use IPM PRiME on other crops as well. Although some products may not currently be in our database, there is often significant overlap in products registered for similar cropping systems, and our project team continues to add products for additional crops on an ongoing basis. Early versions of PRiME will be best suited for specialty crops, with products for commodity crops, such as corn and soybeans, added later this year.

  • What do IPM PRiME risk index scores mean?

    IPM PRiME has been designed as a tool that allows a user to rank pesticide options in relation to each other and assess the effectiveness of various methods for reducing pesticide risk. For some of the risk indices, field results have been used to calibrate the risk scores against actual ecological damage, but the index scores are not absolute measures of environmental harm. Instead, IPM PRiME shows the likelihood that a pesticide application will adversely affect non-target organisms given the characteristics of your farm and methods of application. See our Guide to Interpreting Risk Index Scores for more information.

  • What is the meaning of the zero to one scale in IPM PRiME’s risk ratings?

    This number represents the probability of an undesirable effect or, in the case of chronic risk indices, the proportion of the breeding season where reproduction is inhibited. In the example below, the avian acute index shows a risk score of 0.2. For this index, the undesirable effect is the killing of birds in and around a crop field. Therefore, a score of 0.2 means that there is an estimated 20% chance that the pesticide application will kill birds; a score of 0.5, for example, would mean a 50% chance, and so on. See our Guide to Interpreting Risk Index Scores for a more detailed description of all of IPM PRiME’s risk indices. sample_risk_chart

  • What do the yellow, amber and red zones in the risk summary signify?

    IPM PRiME’s risk rating scale is divided into three categories: low, moderate and high risk. For a given index, a risk score in the yellow zone signifies low risk; a risk score in the amber zone signifies moderate risk, and a risk score in the red zone signifies high risk. In the example below, the VOC emission potential, inhalation, algae and fish indices are in the low risk zone; the small mammal, avian reproductive and avian acute indices are in the moderate risk zone, and the aquatic invertebrates and earthworm indices are in the high risk zone. We consider risk index scores below a 10% chance of an undesirable effect to be in the low risk category, where no further steps to reduce risk are needed. Realistically, 10% is within the margin of error for our risk models. Risk index scores between 10% and 50% fall into the moderate risk category where we recommend that you take steps to reduce (mitigate) the risk of that application. Risk index scores above a 50% chance of an undesirable effect fall into the high risk category, where risk mitigation is highly recommended. See our Guide to Interpreting Risk Index Scores for more information.

  • What happens when IPM PRiME is missing data for a product?

    In some cases, IPM PRiME will not have enough data required to make a risk calculation for a given index. A risk index could fail to calculate because we are missing the necessary physical and chemical properties (e.g. foliar half-life) for the active ingredient or because we are missing the necessary toxicity values for the end point of concern. If a risk bar is present, or a number is given (e.g. 0.00, or <0.01), then a calculation was made. In cases where no calculation is made, a risk score may be replaced by a “pass code” or a warning. To learn more about missing data, see our Guide to Interpreting Risk Index Scores.

  • How does IPM PRiME’s cumulative risk assessment work?

    Cumulative risk estimates the likelihood of at least one of the applications causing an adverse effect. It does not account for pesticide buildup (or dissipation) or for additive effects pesticides. Each risk index has a single horizontal bar, with the number applications falling into each risk category, and the length of each sub-bar indicating the proportional contributions of each category to the overall cumulative risk. Here are side-by-side views of risk for each application versus cumulative. The top left is shows 12 inhalation scores for 12 appliations, only one of which is in the red high risk zone. On the right, the top bar is the corresponding cumulative risk. It is predominantly red due to the single red application, and the 11 other applications marginally add to the cumulative risk. See our Guide to Interpreting Risk Index Scores for more information on how the read the cumulative risk output. cumulative

  • Does IPM PRiME provide a univariate metric that defensibly collapses the set of aquatic, terrestrial, and human risk index scores into a single score that can be used to rank different growers or fields?

    IPM PRiME does not combine risk index scores into a single overall value. Decisions based on combined scores could lead to unintended and harmful risk tradeoffs. For example, a single score will not differentiate one situation where the risk is aquatic to another situation where the risk is to humans. We can show that the statistical expectation of an aggregate risk score, that is a linear combination of risks not significantly positively correlated, leads to an underestimation of risk for the index that individually has the highest probabililty of an adverse effect.

  • Can IPM PRiME account for different pesticide application methods, e.g. granular vs. spray or different spray equipment?

    Yes. IPM PRiME handles differences in application methods a couple different ways. IPM PRiME accounts for drift and runoff as affected by application method. In other cases, see the White Paper on Avian Risk for example, IPM PRiME also uses so-called Use Pattern Adjustment Factors (UPAFs) to adjust risk scores when an application method is known to reduce or increase likely exposure levels to a specific non-target organism, e.g. in the case of tarping that reduces exposure of birds to the pesticide.

  • Are IPM PRiME’s risk calculations based on real impacts?

    IPM PRiME has two kinds of risk index, acute and chronic. While the acute risk indices are calibrated against field studies, the chronic indices are based on laboratory studies. To learn more about how risk indices are calculated, see our Guide to Interpreting Risk Index Scores.

  • Is the Inhalation index risk score for persons on or off the field?

    The Inhalation index calculates risk for a person present, for a significant period of time, in an area adjacent to the field, including a residence, workshop, adjacent field, etc. To learn more about how risk indices are calculated, see our Guide to Interpreting Risk Index Scores.

  • Does IPM PRiME take into account pesticide accumulation after multiple applications?

    Pesticide accumulation refers to the buildup of pesticides in the environment resulting from repeated applications; accumulation can occur in soil, groundwater, surface water, plants and animal tissues. Currently the IPPC-OSU team is finalizing the testing of an aquatic concentrations engine that simulates the daily aquatic concentrations of multiple applications of pesticides. Until that is generally available, each application as an independent event.

  • How can I be confident in the accuracy of the risk scores generated by IPM PRiME? And what about the uncertainty of those scores?

    Our risk scores are generated using the best available science. PRiME’s development team includes qualified experts from academic research, scientific consulting firms, government agencies and non-profit organizations. IPM PRiME’s risk indices have undergone independent scientific reviews, and we continue to publish our work in peer reviewed, scientific journals and to seek input from a broad range of stakeholders. Currently uncertainty, as would be expressed by a risk estimate and some sort of confidence interval, is not provided. IPPC-OSU continues to work to provide this type of information in future versions.

  • Can I import my spray records directly into my IPM PRiME account?

    Yes. IPM PRiME accepts spray records from an electronic spreadsheet such as Excel. This import feature allows you to upload multiple pesticide applications at once, rather than entering each application individually, saving you time and effort. Early versions of the import feature will require the data to be in a specified format, while later versions will connect directly to popular farm data management software. For complicated situations, e.g. regional analysis, or comparisons of many fields at many times, or other novel uses, that are not covered by the simple uploaders, please contact us at Integrated Plant Protection Center at Oregon State University for customizations that we can do in short-order for a fair price.

  • Will IPM PRiME warn me if I enter a pesticide application rate inconsistent with label recommendations?

    No. It is the user’s responsibility to read and follow all label instructions. IPM PRiME will generate risk ratings based on the information entered by the user and will not detect when an incorrect rate has been entered. You are required by law to follow all label instructions regardless of PRiME risk outputs.

  • Is the data entered into IPM PRiME secure?

    Yes. We use industry standard security measures to secure ensitive information. All user data is strictly confidential and will not be shared with any third parties. Please review our privacy statement for more information.

  • Does IPM PRiME generate results for the efficacy or cost of a pesticide application?

    The current version of PRiME does not generate results for how well a pesticide application will work or the cost differences between application scenarios. Accurate data for efficacy and cost is difficult to come by and presently IPM PRiME does not generate results for these factors.

  • Will IPM PRiME suggest strategies for reducing pesticide risk?

    PRiME’s “Suggested Mitigation Strategies” feature is currently under development. When risk level is moderate to high, PRiME will indicate the pathways of exposure (e.g. spray drift, runoff, etc.) and suggest appropriate measures for reducing that risk, including IPM and conservation practices. Users will be able to select hypothetical mitigation options and compare to previous risk ratings.