Oft times we draw our lines in the sand on the basis of either an organic or conventional approach to orchard management. IPM at its best seems to straddle this imaginary line when apple growers judiciously use softer chemicals in conjunction with agrarian common sense. The philosophical divide only deepens, however, when we each stand behind a standard bearer that reads Certified Organic, Ecological, Low Spray, Integrated Fruit Production, and (begging your pardon) damn all you sissies who don't like my chemicals. Inevitably out come the swords of food safety and economic survival as we thrust and parry our way into separate ideological camps.
Two terms from medicine lend far more credence to describing how we as orchardists relate to our trees in the quest to produce healthy, locally-grown fruit. I would argue that each of us makes allopathic and holistic choices within the approach we've chosen to grow fruit. Every organic sulfur spray, for instance, works in an allopathic manner just as does every IPM organophosphate spray. Both are aimed at removing the perceived threat by toxic means. Holistic actions on the other hand undertake to embrace the orchard system as a whole rather than address recurring symptoms. The more toxic a procedure, of course, the further we remove ourselves from integrating soil and tree health into self-sustaining solutions.