Multidecadal, county-level analysis of the effects of land use, Bt cotton, and weather on cotton pests in China

Wei Zhang*, Yanhui Lu, Wopke van der Werf, Jikun Huang, Feng Wu, Ke Zhou, Xiangzheng Deng, Yuying Jiang, Kongming Wu, Mark W. Rosegrant

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Long-term changes in land use, climate, and agricultural technologies may affect pest severity and management. The influences of these major drivers can only be identified by analyzing long-term data. This study examines panel data on land use, adoption of genetically modified Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) insect-resistant cotton, weather, pest severity, and insecticide use on three major cotton pests for 51 counties in China during 1991–2015. Bt cotton had pervasive effects on the whole pest complex in cotton and its management. Adoption resulted in major reductions in insecticide use for bollworm control. The resulting restoration of aphid biological control decreased aphid severity. However, mirid bugs, which have few effective natural enemies in cotton, increased in severity with warming May and reduced insecticide spraying against bollworm. The effects of landscape on pest severity were pest specific. The severity of cotton aphid and mirid bugs decreased with higher land use diversity, but the severity of highly polyphagous cotton bollworm was unrelated to land use diversity. Shares of forest, water body, and unused land area were negatively associated with the severity of mirid bugs, whereas cotton bollworm responded positively to the shares of water body and unused land area. Farmers sprayed insecticides at mild infestation levels and responded aggressively to severe bollworm outbreaks. Findings support the usefulness of Bt-based plant resistance as a component of integrated pest management (IPM) but highlight the potential for unexpected outcomes resulting from agro-ecosystem feedback loops as well as the importance of climate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E7700-E7709
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume115
Issue number33
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 14 Aug 2018

Keywords

  • Bt-cotton
  • Climate change
  • Insecticide use
  • Integrated pest management
  • Land use diversity

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