Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Increasing predator-friendly land can help farmers reduce costs

Date:
May 11, 2012
Source:
Michigan State University
Summary:
Having natural habitat in farming areas that supports ladybugs could help increase their abundance in crops where they control pests and help farmers reduce their costs, says a new study.

Having large tracts of natural habitat surrounding fields increase ladybug populations and help farmers reduce insecticide use.
Credit: G.L. Kohuth

Having natural habitat in farming areas that supports ladybugs could help increase their abundance in crops where they control pests and help farmers reduce their costs, says a Michigan State University study.

Ladybugs and other predatory insects eat crop pests, saving farmers an estimated $4.6 billion a year on insecticides. Non-crop plants provide these predatory insects with food and shelter, helping them to survive and thrive in areas where they are needed. In an attempt to increase benefits from predatory insects, researchers have often planted strips of flowers along the edges of crop fields.

However, natural habitats also provide vital food and shelter resources and may be more important for pest control, said Megan Woltz, MSU doctoral student and co-author of the study that appears in the current issue of Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment.

"Creating predator-attracting habitats next to crops is only a partial solution," said Woltz, who co-authored the study with MSU entomologists Doug Landis and Rufus Isaacs. "Ladybugs and many other pest-eating insects travel long distances throughout the growing season, sometimes flying or crawling over many miles as they search for food and shelter. So we also have to consider what resources are available to these predators at larger scales."

Ladybugs are heralded as a natural, effective killer of soybean aphids, the most-destructive soybean pest in the northern United States. To determine the best way to attract ladybugs to soybean fields, researchers planted buckwheat strips next to soybean fields and also examined the amount of natural habitat within 1.5 miles of the fields.

"Ladybugs loved our buckwheat strips," Woltz said. "We always found way more ladybugs in the buckwheat than are usually in field edges. Unfortunately, all of the ladybugs in the buckwheat did little to change their populations in the soybean fields."

Ultimately, natural habitat proved to be more important. The amount of grasslands and forests within 1.5 miles of the soybean fields determined how many ladybugs ended up in the field, she added.

Such large areas typically encompass multiple farms, suggesting that rural neighbors may need to work together. In other studies, landscapes with at least 20 percent of non-crop habitat showed good pest control. Providing some habitat on every farm and the properties that surround them would add up to a lot of habitat at the landscape scale -- the scale that matters to ladybugs.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. J. Megan Woltz, Rufus Isaacs, Douglas A. Landis. Landscape structure and habitat management differentially influence insect natural enemies in an agricultural landscape. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 2012; 152: 40 DOI: 10.1016/j.agee.2012.02.008

Cite This Page:

Michigan State University. "Increasing predator-friendly land can help farmers reduce costs." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120511175014.htm>.
Michigan State University. (2012, May 11). Increasing predator-friendly land can help farmers reduce costs. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120511175014.htm
Michigan State University. "Increasing predator-friendly land can help farmers reduce costs." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120511175014.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) Dairy farmers and ethnic groups in Vermont are both benefiting from a unique collaborative effort that's feeding a growing need for fresh and affordable goat meat. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Not only are these newly discovered bugs' sex organs reversed, but they also mate for up to 70 hours. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) A new report shows rates of two foodborne infections increased in the U.S. in recent years, while salmonella actually dropped 9 percent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Great British Farmland Boom

The Great British Farmland Boom

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 17, 2014) Britain's troubled Co-operative Group is preparing to cash in on nearly 18,000 acres of farmland in one of the biggest UK land sales in decades. As Ivor Bennett reports, the market timing couldn't be better, with farmland prices soaring over 270 percent in the last 10 years. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins