Using Biodiversity to Combat Pests in Permanent Crops
Semi-natural habitats such as hedges, tree stands and flower strips often exhibit greater species diversity than cultivated land, as well as providing enhanced ecosystem services.
Agroscope records the incidence and needs of selected harmful and beneficial arthropods by means of outdoor surveys, experiments in the field and laboratory, and modelling. The findings contribute to the design of an agricultural landscape that will suppress the occurrence and spread of pests, and enhance the positive aspects of biodiversity. In this way, Agroscope sustainably preserves the quality of the landscape and ensures the competitive production of high-quality plant produce and products.
Many predatory beneficials are able to utilise alternative food sources when prey is limited. If they manage to ensure their development and reproduction in this way, they could gain a competitive advantage over other species. This factor may allow immigrated or introduced exotic species to displace native ones.
Beneficials such as predators and parasitoids, which are used for biological pest control, can also harm non-target organisms. To be able to assess the environmental risks before the release of such beneficials, it is important to know the physiological and behavioural factors constituting the host- or prey spectrum.
The ability to survive during winter poses one of the most important barriers for establishment of species in temperate climates. To assess, during the biosafety evaluation, whether an exotic natural enemy can establish itself, it is therefore important to know its overwintering strategy and cold-tolerance.
Project Title: Natural Pest Control in Permanent Crops