Crop rotation reduces reliance on chemical control of economically important corn pest
Conventionally grown corn is typically managed intensively with chemicals to combat weeds and insect pests that infest the plants or the ears of corn, and most corn grown in the U.S. is genetically modified to help control pest damage. A study from the journal Insects shows that crop rotation can be an effective strategy to manage the economically important pest Western corn rootworm (Diabrotica virgifera virgifera). Rotating crops is an important tool standardly used in organic agriculture to manage plant and soil diseases, and other crop pests because organic farmers must rely on non-chemical pest control strategies. Chemically intensive conventional farming does not have to use crop rotation when soil fumigants are used to disinfest, or fungicides and pesticides are sprayed to manage above-ground threats. However, this study found that within conventional farming of corn, crop rotation has proven to be an effective strategy to manage corn rootworm, and has reduced reliance on insecticides as a result. The study reviewed 12 years of scientific literature from 2008 to 2020, and conducted interviews with experts in managing Western corn rootworm to learn which strategies have been effective in controlling the pest across Europe. The finding that crop rotation is an effective tool is important because as farmers find ways to reduce their reliance on insecticides, food production becomes safer for human and environmental health.
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