Servicio de Información Comunitario sobre Investigación y Desarrollo - CORDIS

General options of cultural practises to enhance natural enemies of WCR (Western Corn Rootworm) in annual crops

Although the arthropod diversity in maize is naturally very low, there is a potential to enhance natural enemies through changes in conservation and cultural practises in the European maize production.
The following points could be considered:
-- Leaving areas of continuous vegetation in large-scale crop rotation;
-- Reducing tillage intensity where applicable; and
-- Allowing a tolerable degree of non - crop plants in and around maize fields.

- Discontinuity of monoculture in time through crop rotations was shown to be the major cultural practise within an IPM strategies against WCR (Western Corn Rootworm) ( WP 2/1). For not loosing the natural enemy community between the change from one crop to the other, it must be recommended to leave continuous vegetation attributes such as perennial crop components (lucerne, fallow fields), herbaceous undergrowth or at least field - surrounding grass - or bush strips within the rotated maize production areas.

- Frequently disturbed crop fields by plough tillage, bare soil in winter, etc., can favour rapid colonisation and growth of herbivore populations, such as WCR, due to initially natural enemy free space (Price, 1981), even though egg over wintering of WCR might be reduced (Brust and House 1990). Thus, surface tillage or at least reduced plough tillage should be recommended rather than several plough tillage’s
-- To reduce soil erosion,
-- To enhance reproductivity, survival of natural enemies due to continuous vegetation coverage (Blumberg and Crossley 1983) and
-- To more efficiently use energy (Letourneau and Altieri 1999).

- Non crop plants are a major problem in maize production and many herbicides are used. Moreover some non - crop plant species could serve as pollen source for adult WCR (WP 1/3). Nevertheless, it can be recommended to leave a tolerable amount of non - crop plants in the maize field by reducing weeding frequency, reducing herbicide use, and by reducing tillage frequency because benefit of enhancing natural enemies is expected.

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