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Effect of Different Cover Crops, Mass-Trapping Systems and Environmental Factors on Invertebrate Activity in Table Olive Orchards—Results from Field Experiments in Crete, Greece

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Nikolaos Volakakis, Dr Leo RempelosORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2022 by the authors.Background: Although the negative effects of insecticides and herbicides on beneficial and non-target invertebrates are well documented, there is limited information on potential negative impacts of pest and weed management practices used in organic farming on invertebrate activity. Methods: Using established field experiments designed to compare different ground cover crops (used to suppress weeds and increase nitrogen availability and soil health) and mass-trapping systems (used for olive fly control) in organic olive production systems, we monitored the impact of these practices on invertebrate activity. Results: When different ground cover crops were compared, ground cover crops established from a vetch/pea/barley seed mixtures resulted in significantly higher parasitic wasps activity than ground cover vegetation in control plots (plots in which Medicago seed were sown and failed to establish) that were dominated by the weed Oxalis pes-caprae. When two bottle based mass-trapping systems were compared, the traps caught similar numbers of olive flies and some non-target invertebrates (mainly other Diptera, Neuroptera and Lepidotera and Formicidae), although no parasitic wasps or pollinators (bees; bumble bees) were caught in traps. Analyses of invertebrate profiles found in McPhail monitoring traps showed that invertebrate activity profiles were similar in plots with and without mass-trapping devices. In addition, as expected, redundancy analyses showed that climatic parameters (temperature, rainfall, humidity, wind direction) are significant explanatory variables/drivers for invertebrate activity in olive orchards. Conclusions: The results presented indicate that mixed legume/cereal ground cover crops may increase the activity of parasitic wasps and may act as a reservoir for natural enemies of agricultural pest and that olive fly mass-trapping systems may lure and kill some non-target invertebrates, but do not affect the activity of two main groups of beneficial invertebrates namely pollinators and parasitic wasps.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Volakakis N, Kabourakis E, Rempelos L, Kiritsakis A, Leifert C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Agronomy

Year: 2022

Volume: 12

Issue: 10

Print publication date: 01/10/2022

Online publication date: 20/10/2022

Acceptance date: 18/10/2022

Date deposited: 07/11/2022

ISSN (electronic): 2073-4395

Publisher: MDPI


DOI: 10.3390/agronomy12102576

Notes: This article belongs to the Special Issue Integrated Soil, Crop and Human Nutrition and Health Management in Organic Agriculture


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Funder referenceFunder name
... by countering habitat fragmentation” (grant number 80811).
Greek State Scholarships Foundation (IKY) to Nikos Volakakis
GSRT—Greece matching funds for European Projects 2019—IGIC—“Improvement of green infrastructure (GI) in agroecosystems: reconnecting natural areas ...
European Union Integrated project Quality Low Input Food (Grant number 506358)