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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Auburn, Alabama » Soil Dynamics Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #390068

Research Project: Conservation Systems to Improve Production Efficiency, Reduce Risk, and Promote Sustainability

Location: Soil Dynamics Research

Title: Cover crop effects on insect dynamics in cropping systems of the southeastern U.S.

item AKINS, JOSEPH - Pennsylvania State University
item GAMBLE, AUDREY - Auburn University
item JACOBSON, ALANA - Auburn University
item Balkcom, Kipling

Submitted to: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/10/2021
Publication Date: 11/15/2021
Citation: Akins, J., Gamble, A.V., Jacobson, A., Balkcom, K.S. 2021. Cover crop effects on insect dynamics in cropping systems of the southeastern U.S. [abstract]. ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts. 11/10/2021, Salt Lake City, UT.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Evidence suggests winter cover crops could be useful for augmenting conservation biological control of insect pests in southeastern row crop systems. Research is needed to understand the effect of various winter cover crop mixtures on the insect dynamics in Alabama soybean (Glycine max), peanut (Arachis hypogea), and cotton (Gossypium hirsutum) production systems. A study was established at the Tennessee Valley Research and Extension Center (Belle Mina, AL) and the Wiregrass Research and Extension Center (Headland, AL) to assess the effect of crimson clover (Trifolium incarnatum), cereal rye (Secale cereale), and forage radish (Raphanus sativus) cover crops on pest and beneficial insect presence. Insect presence was recorded using sweep nets, beat sheets, and visual observations of damage in cash crops. Results showed that crimson clover and radish-clover cover crops can increase beneficial insects such as big eyed bugs (Geocoris punctipes) and lady beetles (Coccinellidae) in north AL. Clover-containing cover crops were also preferable to winter fallow for harboring greater numbers of beneficials in south AL. Rye, clover, and radish-clover cover crops all generally harbored more pest insects than fallow and radish monocultures. Crimson clover cover crops can increase numbers of three cornered alfalfa hoppers (Spissistilus festinus) and bean leaf beetles (Cerotoma trifurcata), while tarnished plant bug (Lygus lineolaris) pests seem to prefer radish-clover bicultures. Winter cover crops are unlikely to enhance beneficial insect persistence during soybean or peanut growing seasons if terminated two to three weeks ahead of cash crop planting. Cover crops had weak impacts on beneficial insects during the cotton growing season in north AL, while rye residue promoted beneficial insect persistence in south AL cotton better than radish cover crops. Crimson clover cover crops may increase the presence of grasshoppers (Acrididae) and leafhoppers (Cicadellidae) early in the cotton growing season in north AL.