No significant effects of insecticide use indicators and landscape variables on biocontrol in field margins

L. Bakker*, W. van der Werf, F.J.J.A. Bianchi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Insecticides are used widely to manage pests, but they may cause mortality in natural enemy populations and non-target prey. On the other hand, resources provided by the landscape – often associated with semi-natural habitat – may enhance natural enemy communities. While there is substantial information on how insecticide use and semi-natural habitats influence biocontrol in crop fields, little is known about how local insecticide use interacts with landscape variables to govern natural biocontrol in field margins. In this 2-year study we assessed predation and parasitism rates of eggs of the cabbage moth (Mamestra brassicae) on potted cabbage plants in field margins adjacent to 20 organically managed fields and 18 conventionally managed fields We analysed egg predation and parasitism rates in field margins using three predictors for insecticide use: (i) farming system (organic or conventional), (ii) frequency of insecticide use in the adjacent focal fields, and (iii) estimated insecticide use quantity within a radius of 1 km from the sampling sites. Insecticide use included foliar or soil-applied applications, including mineral oils. Landscape variables were used as covariables to account for landscape effects. Mean predation and parasitism rates were 14 % and 6%, respectively. There were no significant associations between predation and parasitism rates in field margins with insecticide use in the adjacent field or the wider landscape. Our findings suggest that field margins can be valuable habitats for natural enemies in agricultural landscapes, irrespective of the insecticide use intensity at the local and landscape scale.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107253
JournalAgriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
Volume308
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2021

Keywords

  • Agricultural landscapes
  • Biological control
  • Farming systems
  • Parasitism
  • Pesticide use
  • Predation
  • Semi-natural habitats

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