Cover Crops Acting as Trap Crops Protect Vegetables from Pests

From Southern SARE

For farmers in central Florida, planting cover crops in strips as a trap crop alongside cash crops is proving to be a highly effective method for attracting beneficial insects and controlling pests. Farmers have been so pleased with the results that they have fully adopted the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategy as an alternative to using chemical insecticides.

In a Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SSARE) On-Farm Research Grant, two small organic farms teamed up with the University of Florida to test the prevalence of beneficial and predatory insects in strip plantings of selected annual cover crops, such as sunflower, rye, triticale, sunn hemp and buckwheat. Continue reading

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

eOrganic webinar on trap crops for flea beetle

Join eOrganic for a webinar on Using Trap Crops to Control the Crucifer Flea Beetle, by entomologist Joyce Parker of the EPA. The webinar will take place on November 11, 2014 at 2PM Eastern Time, 1PM Central, 12PM Mountain, 11AM Pacific Time. The webinar is free and open to the public, and advance registration is required.

Diverse plantings bring many benefits for agroecosystems. This webinar explores the use of diverse trap crops, stands of plants grown to attract pest insects away from your target crop, as an approach to manage flea beetles in broccoli.

Register at https://www.extension.org/pages/71255