IPM through companion plantings

People generally don’t go out of their way to attract insects. But on a few small farms outside Tallahassee, Florida, that’s precisely what some growers are doing—with guidance from scientists from USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and Florida A&M University (FAMU).

Through the scientists’ field demonstrations and technical presentations, the growers are learning how to pair their crops with “companion plants.” Some of these, like sweet alyssum, a flowering annual, attract and bolster populations of beneficial insects that prey on costly crop pests. Other plants, like giant red mustard, repel the pests and “push” them away from the main crop. Then, there are so-called “trap crops.”

“These are companion crops you can plant next to the main crop to lure pests away to where it can be controlled with pesticides, biocontrol agents, or other means,” explains ARS entomologist Susie Legaspi in Gainesville, FL. Legaspi co-directs FAMU’s Center for Biological Control (CBC) in Tallahassee.

– See more at: http://blogs.usda.gov/2014/12/23/pairing-plant-%e2%80%9cbuddies%e2%80%9d/#sthash.pPN8vsXQ.dpuf