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Investigating the effects of crop type, fertility management and crop protection on the activity of beneficial invertebrates in an extensive farm management comparison trial

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Michael Eyre, Dr Roy Sanderson, Peter Shotton, Professor Carlo Leifert


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The activity of 11 groups of invertebrates, mainly predators and parasites, was investigated in 2005 and 2006 in a plot trial system on a farm in northern England, where the effects of organic and conventional fertility and crop protection management were separated within different crop types. Invertebrate activity was assessed using pitfall traps and suction sampling. Mixed effects models indicated that crop type significantly affected activity in all 11 groups. Crop protection applications had only a limited impact on activity but fertility management had considerable effects in some crops. Most differences were in barley, wheat and grass/clover, with less in vegetable and bean plots. Carabidae, Lycosidae, Staphylinidae, Linyphiidae and Braconidae gave consistent responses to fertility management, with more activity of the first two groups in organic plots and more of the other three in conventional plots. However, Coccinellidae and Ichneumonidae were not consistent in their activity between crops. After the effects of crop type had been partialled out, a constrained ordination showed that the novel combination of organic fertility and conventional crop protection had the most influence on group activity, with the combination of organic fertility and organic crop protection also significant. Maximising the activity of beneficial invertebrates in organic and sustainable farming systems requires a basic understanding of the effects of both crop type and fertility management, as well as crop protection.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Eyre MD, Sanderson RA, Shotton PN, Leifert C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Annals of Applied Biology

Year: 2009

Volume: 155

Issue: 2

Pages: 267-276

ISSN (print): 0003-4746

ISSN (electronic): 1744-7348

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-7348.2009.00337.x


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Funder referenceFunder name
CT-2003-506358European Union Integrated Project QualityLowInputFood