Pests and diseases in agroforestry systems of the humid tropics
Authors: Schroth, G.; Krauss, U.; Gasparotto, L.; Duarte Aguilar, J.; Vohland, K.
Source: Agroforestry Systems, Volume 50, Number 3, 1 December 2000 , pp. 199-241(43)
Abstract:Few studies have included detailed investigations of the interactions of agroforestry techniques with pests and diseases, although the relevance of such interactions has long been recognized. The objectives of this review are to provide basic information on pests and diseases in tropical agroforestry systems and to develop concepts which can assist in the future in the systematic data collection and analysis in this field. The emphasis is on simultaneous agroforestry systems with annual and perennial crops, although rotational systems are also discussed. Crop rotation is an important pest and disease control strategy in annual cropping systems, and the principle of altering host with non-host plants can also be applied in improved fallow systems, provided that hosts of crop pests and diseases are avoided when selecting the fallow species. When annual cropping systems are transformed into simultaneous agroforestry, the control strategy of frequent disturbance of pest and disease populations is to some extent substituted for the strategy of increased stability and internal control mechanisms. However, reduced pest and disease risk is not automatically achieved by introducing perennial plants and increasing the plant diversity in a system. If plant species are introduced that harbor pests or diseases of other species in the system, the risk of pest and disease outbreaks may actually increase. For evaluating such risks, it is important to consider host-ranges of diseases on the pathovar instead of the species level. Beside the selection of compatible plant species, their spatial arrangement may be important for reducing the spread of pest and disease organisms through the system, although little information is available on such effects, and they may be largely irrelevant for organisms with efficient dispersal mechanisms such as wind-dispersed fungi. In addition to the species-specific, ‘biological’ effects of plants on pests and diseases, their unspecific, ‘physical’ effects can be of major relevance for pest and disease development as well as the susceptibility of the affected plant species. Increased pest and disease incidence has often been observed directly at the tree-crop interface, caused by the humid microclimate, physical protection of mammal and bird pests by the trees and eventually reduced pest and disease tolerance of competition-stressed crops. Linear tree plantings and hedgerows affect the wind transport of small insects and disease propagules, the active immigration and emigration of pest organisms as well as the populations of natural enemies. Similarly, overhead shade has a major effect on the micro-climatic conditions under which pest and disease organisms, their natural enemies and the crops themselves develop, and its optimization is a highly efficient control strategy for many pests and diseases. On infertile soils, the susceptibility of crops to pests and diseases is strongly affected by the availability of plant nutrients, which may be influenced by agroforestry techniques in various ways. Soil management measures such as mulching and planting cover crops may affect crop health by improving soil fertility and by directly acting on pest and disease populations. The importance of a more systematic collection of pest and disease related information for agroforestry, e.g., in a central database, and of the development of strategies for reducing pest and disease risks in agroforestry in cooperation with farmers is stressed.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Publication date: December 1, 2000