Skip to main content

Comparing the species composition of beneficial insects across agricultural landscapes

Investigators: Dr. Matthew E. O’Neal and Joe Wheelock

The goal of this project is to understand the species composition of beneficial insects across a gradient of adjacent habitats with different management regimes. Specifically, we aim to analyze the spatial and temporal distribution of beneficial insects in agricultural landscapes composed of the following:

1) organically operated, mixed vegetable farms;

2) non-crop, multiple-species, perennial buffer strips; and

3) conventionally managed, corn-soybean monocultures.

buffer stripTo achieve this goal, we located four different sites with this arrangement of landscape components and sampled the insect communities throughout the growing season. The abundance, diversity and species composition of beneficial insects is being compared over time and across habitats. Here we hope to gain insight on how to improve the buffer strip practices required for organic growers that are seeking (or maintaining) a USDA certified organic status.

This site, located in Dallas Co., IA, shows the landscape and arrangement of habitats used in this study (from left to right), A) "Small Potatoes Farm" – an USDA certified organic, diverse vegetable farm; B) a multi-species vegetative buffer composed of perennial grasses and woody plant species and C) a conventionally managed, corn-soybean production field.