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Role of biodiversity in integrated fruit production in eastern North American orchards

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Diversifying agricultural ecosystems to enhance biological control is a promising way of promoting sustainable pest management.

In the present study, monoculture apple and peach with standard insecticide treatments were compared with three biodiverse treatments (polyculure, monoculture with companion plants and polyculture with companion plants) with reduced standard insecticide use.

Abundance of insect predators was increased by both the presence of companion plants and extrafloral nectar but parasitism of the leafroller Platynota idaeusalis was not affected.

There were no consistent effects of biodiversity treatment on either tree growth or fruit yield. Insect injury to Empire apple and peach fruit was not consistently affected by the biodiversity treatments. Granny Smith apples were harvested later than Empire and had more fruit injury in the biodiverse treatments than the standard insecticide control.

A reduction in pesticides with added biodiversity proved to be a viable alternative to standard chemical insecticide management for temperate tree fruit. Increases in the natural control of pests resulting from increased plant diversity has promise for reducing the reliance on chemical insecticides for pest suppression.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: February 1, 2012

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