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Using crop diversity to manage pest problems: Some California examples

  • Mary Louise Flint (a1) and Philip A. Roberts (a2)

Abstract

Moderate to large scale California growers (as well as small scale ones) manipulate cropping patterns in a number of ways to reduce pest problems. Crop rotation, which can be defined as diversifying crops over time, is used to manage selected pests, primarily weeds, pathogens, and nematodes. As a substitute for pesticides, crop rotation has been most rewarding in the control of nematodes; sugarbeet cyst and root knot nematode examples are detailed. Some pests that invade fields from nearby areas can be managed by modifying adjacent cropping patterns or practices; Pierce's disease of grapes, sugarbeet yellows and border harvesting of alfalfa are given as examples. Finally, multiple crops can be grown within a single field or orchard. Although this approach is not widely practiced by many California growers, two examples of systems where intercropping has been shown to limit pest numbers without the use of pesticides are described: intercropping of cotton with alfalfa and companion planting oats when seeding alfalfa. These examples show that using crop diversification to manage pests is feasible, but growers must be strongly motivated to make the necessary changes in cropping patterns. Most of the systems that have been widely adopted are those for which few other economically feasible methods were available.

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Using crop diversity to manage pest problems: Some California examples

  • Mary Louise Flint (a1) and Philip A. Roberts (a2)

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