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The effects of farming system and fertilisers on pests and natural enemies: A synthesis of current research.

Meta-analysis and vote-counting techniques were used to compare farming system (organic and conventional) and fertiliser effects on arthropod pests and their natural enemies.

Year of Publication2011

Organic agriculture is becoming widespread due to increased consumer demand and regulatory and political support. Organic agriculture can increase arthropod diversity but the response of pests and their natural enemies is variable. Fertiliser is an important component of agricultural systems and its effects on pests and natural enemies will influence agroecosystems. In this study, meta-analysis and vote-counting techniques were used to compare farming system (organic and conventional) and fertiliser effects on arthropod pests and their natural enemies. The meta-analyses indicated that pests generally benefitted from organic techniques, this is particularly evident when experiments were carried out on a smaller scale. Pest responses to organic and conventional fertiliser types were divergent, plant composts benefitted pest arthropods while the opposite was true for manures, this has implications for pest management. Most natural enemy groups responded positively to organic farming although this was not true for Coleopterans. Experimental scale had a prominent impact on natural enemy responses with farm scale studies showing particularly positive effects of organic agriculture on natural enemies. This suggests that it is large scale features of organic agriculture such as landscape heterogeneity that are beneficial to natural enemies. Natural enemy responses to organic fertilisers were positive indicating that field scale management practices including fertiliser can also be important in pest management.

Citation

Garratt, M. P. D.; Wright, D. J.; Leather, S. R. (2011) "The effects of farming system and fertilisers on pests and natural enemies: A synthesis of current research."Agriculture Ecosystems and Environment 141 (3-4) pp 261-270

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Additional keywords/tags

organic farmingpestsnatural enemiesfertilizationmeta analysis
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Supporting the development of the national rural economy.

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