Terms to Know

Conventional Production

A production system that varies widely depending on the farm, crop, environmental conditions, and grower decisions. All available technologies can be utilized. In respect to pest management practices, the grower makes all decisions concerning preventative techniques, non-chemical control, and pesticide selection. Any pesticide registered by the Environmental Protection Agency for that crop may be used.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

As defined in the USDA National Road Map for Integrated Pest Management, IPM is a long-standing,science-based, decision-making process that identifies and reduces risks from pests and pest management-related strategies. IPM coordinates the use of pest biology, environmental information, and available technology to prevent unacceptable levels of pest damage by the most economical means, while posing the least possible risk to people, property, resources, and the environment. The key components of IPM – pest prevention, pest monitoring, and a careful assessment of various pest control options – are practiced by all organic and conventional growers who are committed to sustainable production.

Local Food

Food is grown “close” to where the purchaser lives. It can be organic or conventionally grown.

Organic Production

A production system that is managed in accordance with the Organic Foods Production Act and its associated Provisions.  In respect to pest management practices, the Provisions indicate that 1) non-chemical management practices (such as crop rotation, sanitation, and pest-resistant varieties) must be used to prevent pests, 2) pests may be controlled through mechanical or physical methods, and 3) biological, botanical, or synthetic pesticides approved for organic use may be applied when 1) and 2) are insufficient.  The grower documents the conditions that will trigger the use of pesticides, and what pesticides would be used, in the organic system plan.


Most commonly, an insect, weed, or disease-causing pathogen that impacts crops, people, or animals. Other common pests include mites and rodents. The Organic Foods Production Act Provisions refer to “crop pests, weeds, and diseases” – so “crop pests” refers to all pests except weeds and disease-causing pathogens in the Provisions of the Organic Food Production Act.


Any substance or mixture of substances intended to prevent, destroy, repel or mitigate any pest; or any plant regulator, defoliant or desiccant.  Insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, botanicals, and certain strains of bacteria (microbials) are examples of pesticides.

Sustainable Production

A production system that utilizes management practices that conserve or improve the capability of the enterprise (its land, soil, etc.) to produce crops in the future. ”Sustainable agriculture” (U.S. Code Title 7, Section 3103) is legally defined as an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will, over the long-term, 1) satisfy human food and fiber needs, 2) enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base upon which the agriculture economy depends, 3) make the most efficient use of nonrenewable resources and on-farm resources and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls, 4) sustain the economic viability of farm operations, and 5) enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole. A sustainable production system may be either organic or conventional. Both organic and conventional growers can use a variety of practices to develop and maintain their individualized sustainable system. Those practices available to, and required of, the organic grower are a subset of the practices available to conventional growers. Crop rotation, sanitation, cover crops, composted animal manures, and disease-resistant varieties are examples of these practices. Organic and conventional growers use some of the same pesticides, and safe use is required regardless of the pesticide used.


Initial compilation courtesy of Lenora Jones

Washington State University Extension