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OSC Activity D.1

Agroecosystem management for pest control in organic vegetable production

Activity Researchers

Name Affiliation
Maryse Leblanc, Lead Researcher
maryse.leblanc@irda.qc.ca

Weed Scientist
Research and Development Institute for the Agri-Environment (IRDA)
3300 rue Sicotte
PO Box 480
Saint-Hyacinthe, QC J2S 7B8

Josée Boisclair, Collaborator
josee.boisclair@irda.qc.ca
Researcher, Entomology
Research and Development Institute for the Agri-Environment (IRDA)
3300 rue Sicotte
PO Box 480
Saint-Hyacinthe, QC J2S 7B8
Katrine Stewart, Collaborator
katrine.stewart@mcgill.ca
Associate Professor
Department of Plant Science
McGill University
21,111 Lakeshore Rd
Ste. Anne de Bellevue, QC
H9X 3V9

Objectives

The purpose of this project is to research (develop and improve) the management of organic vegetable production systems that can increase biodiversity while preventing and minimizing pest problems. The specific objectives are to:

  1. Determine the effect of crimper-rolled winter rye on weed control, insect populations and transplanted vegetable crop productivity.
  2. Determine the effect of companion planting of carrot with leek on crop enemies (insects, weeds and diseases).
  3. Determine the efficacy of trap plants to attract herbivorous insect populations and deplete them on the main crop .
  4. Determine the efficacy of flowering strips to increase insect biodiversity.

Activity Summary

The purpose of this project is to increase biodiversity while preventing and minimizing pest problems in organic vegetable production systems. The specific objectives are to:

  • Determine the effect of crimper-rolled winter rye on weed control, insect populations and transplanted vegetable crop productivity. The vegetable crops will be broccoli, onion, pepper and melon.
  • Determine the effect of companion planting of carrot with leek on crop enemies (insects (leek moth, onion maggot, carrot rust fly, and beneficial insects), weeds and diseases).
  • Determine the efficacy of trap plants to attract herbivorous insect populations and deplete them on the main crop. Petunias will be used as trap plants in cabbage to determine their effect on the incidence of cabbage maggot and Jimsonweed will be planted in a potato crop to determine its effect on Colorado potato beetle population.
  • Determine the efficacy of flowering strips in increasing insect biodiversity. The effect of alfalfa, petunia, phacelia, mustard, yarrow, alyssum, coriander, cosmos, french marigold, nasturtium on beneficial insects and pest abundance will be studied.

This project will be established at the Organic Agriculture Platform, in St-Bruno-de-Montarville, Québec and consists of 4 experiments that will be conducted over 2 or 3 years in the field. The field crop production methods will follow organic agriculture specifications. This project will innovate by identifying and scientifically quantifying the benefits of increasing biodiversity while controlling insects and weeds by interseeds and intercrops. More specifically, this project will: identify strategies that increase biodiversity in agroecosystem; identify and quantify the insect (beneficial and herbivorous) response to various attracting or repelling plants; identify flowering species that attract beneficial insects; identify horticultural crops and quantify their response to rye allelopathy; provide effective pest control solutions immediately useable in the organic vegetable production systems under study; provide a general framework that could be used to expand results in other production areas (provinces) and in organic crop production systems not initially included; and identify weeding strategies that improve weed control while decreasing hand weeding time.

Some of the outcomes of this research project are a reduction in required pest control intensity with the adoption of the improved management systems on organic farms (e.g. costs and labour expected to be reduced by 10%); a decrease in hand weeding time of 15% and a 5% increase in yield with companion planting. These improvements will be useable by all growers and crop advisors involved in horticultural production (organic or conventional) as soon as they become available. The increase in vegetable quality (reduced incidence of insect pests) could increase the attractiveness of organic vegetable produces on supermarket shelves and decrease their production costs (with an increase in productivity).

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