Navigation Links
'Balanced' ecosystems seen in organic ag better at controlling pests
Date:6/30/2010

PULLMAN, Wash.There really is a balance of nature, but as accepted as that thought is, it has rarely been studied. Now Washington State University researchers writing in the journal Nature have found that more balanced animal and plant communities typical of organic farms work better at fighting pests and growing a better plant.

The researchers looked at insect pests and their natural enemies in potatoes and found organic crops had more balanced insect populations in which no one species of insect has a chance to dominate. And in test plots, the crops with the more balanced insect populations grew better.

"I think 'balance' is a good term," says David Crowder, a post-doctorate research associate in entomology at Washington State University. "When the species are balanced, at least in our experiments, they're able to fulfill their roles in a more harmonious fashion."

Crowder and colleagues here and at the University of Georgia use the term "evenness" to describe the relatively equal abundance of different species in an ecosystem. Conservation efforts more typically concentrate on species richnessthe number of individual speciesor the loss of individual species. Crowder's paper is one of only a few to address the issue. It is the first the first to look at animal and fungal communities and at multiple points in the food chain.

The researchers say their results strengthen the argument that both richness and evenness need to be considered in restoring an ecosystem. The paper also highlights insect predator and prey relationships at a time when the potato industry and large French fry customers like McDonald's and Wendy's are being pushed to consider the ecological sustainability of different pest-control practices.

Conventional pest-management on farms often leads to biological communities dominated by a few species. Looking at conventional and organic potato farms in central Washington State's Columbia Basin, Crowder found that the evenness of natural pests differed drastically between the two types of farms. In the conventional fields, one species might account for four out of five insects. In the organic fields, the most abundant species accounted for as little as 38 percent of a field's insect predators and enemies.

Using field enclosures on Washington State University's Pullman campus, Crowder recreated those conditions using potato plants, Colorado potato beetles, four insect species and three soil pathogens that attack the beetles. When the predators and pathogens had similar numbers, says Crowder, "we would get significantly less potato beetles at the end of the experiment."

"In turn," he adds, "we'd get bigger plants."

Crowder says he is unsure why species evenness was lower in conventional crops. It could be from different types of fertilization or from insecticides killing some natural enemies more than others.


'/>"/>

Contact: Eric Sorensen
eric.sorensen@wsu.edu
509-335-4846
Washington State University
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. A balanced protein diet can reduce accumulation of nitrogen on dairy cattle farms by up to 35 percent
2. Neural tissue contains imbalanced levels of proteins, U-M study finds
3. TV food advertisements promote imbalanced diets
4. Marine spatial planning: A more balanced approach to ocean management
5. Following traumatic brain injury, balanced nutrition saves lives
6. A balanced memory network
7. Scientists discover important beauty secret for balanced skin color and tone
8. Healthy watersheds can sustain water supplies, aquatic ecosystems in a changing climate
9. Study challenges long-held assumption about competition in disturbed ecosystems
10. New online map shows network of protection for North Americas marine ecosystems
11. Researchers calculate the greenhouse gas value of ecosystems
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
'Balanced' ecosystems seen in organic ag better at controlling pests
(Date:4/11/2017)... Florida , April 11, 2017 ... a security technology company, announces the appointment of independent Directors ... Bendheim to its Board of Directors, furthering the company,s ... ... of NXT-ID, we look forward to their guidance and benefiting ...
(Date:4/5/2017)... 2017  The Allen Institute for Cell Science today ... one-of-a-kind portal and dynamic digital window into the human ... first application of deep learning to create predictive models ... and a growing suite of powerful tools. The Allen ... future publicly available resources created and shared by the ...
(Date:4/5/2017)... KEY FINDINGS The global market ... CAGR of 25.76% during the forecast period of 2017-2025. ... for the growth of the stem cell market. ... MARKET INSIGHTS The global stem cell market is segmented ... The stem cell market of the product is segmented ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:4/28/2017)... ... April 28, 2017 , ... While things have been quiet for ... company and provide a new outlook for the future. As a continued effort ... management with the retirement of Mr. Siegel as CEO. With the new adjustments in ...
(Date:4/27/2017)... ... April 27, 2017 , ... ... digital pathology, today announced their digital pathology technology has the potential to eliminate ... five medical centers in The Netherlands as part of the 2017 ISBI ...
(Date:4/27/2017)... ... April 27, 2017 , ... During the course ... how testing for 1,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D can enhance clinical practice. Participants will learn the ... dihydroxyvitamin D. , Dr. Gregory Plotnikoff, senior consultant with Minnesota Personalized Medicine, will ...
(Date:4/27/2017)... ... 27, 2017 , ... The Council for Agricultural Science and ... Lusk, a consummate communicator who promotes agricultural science and technology in the public ... explains how innovation and growth in agriculture are critical for food security and ...
Breaking Biology Technology: