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Effects of cover crop and extended rotations on pest communities

Investigators: Dr. Matthew E. O’Neal, Dr. Aaron J. Gassmann, Mike W. Dunbar

Managing pest injury is an important component for agronomic production. Pests of agriculture extended beyond just insects but include other arthropods, plant diseases, and weeds. Each has the potential to significantly reduce crop yields. Integrative Pest Management (IPM) combines multiple management strategies, including chemical application of pesticides and crop rotation, with knowledge of pest ecology to manage pest pressure in an economically and environmentally viable way. The goals of this project are to better define the dynamics between pests of corn and soybean based agriculture and long-term weather variability with a focus on IPM tactics. Particular attention is being paid to agricultural systems using management practices of extended rotations and those planted with rye cover crop. Within these systems assemblages of insect and arthropod, plant disease pressure, and composition of the weed seed bank are being measured. Data collected from these studies are part of a five-year project assessing the environmental, economic, and social impacts of long-term climate variability on corn and soybean based agriculture systems by a transdiscipline group of researchers. More information can be found at Sustainable Corn Org.