INFLUENCE OF A NATIVE INSECTARY PLANT, CHAMAECRISTA FASCICULATA (MICHX.) ON ORGANIC FIELD CORN AND ARTHROPOD COMMUNITIES
Hooks, Cerruti R.R.
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Increasing plant diversity in conventionally monoculture agrosystems has been promoted as a method to enhance beneficial arthropod density and efficacy, suppress herbivory and provide a range of ecosystem services. I investigated the pest suppressive potential and economic impact of plant diversification in organic field corn. The experiment consisted of two treatments, corn grown in monoculture (C) and bordered by strips of partridge pea (PP). Pest and natural enemy populations, corn damage, yield, and profits were compared among treatments. Natural enemy and herbivore arthropod populations were affected by treatment and distance from plot border. Corn damage due to pests was also affected by treatment and location, but did not significantly affect yield. Yield in monoculture plots was generally greater than in PP but did not result in greater profit. Pest and natural enemy arthropod abundances were elevated in partridge pea treatment borders, but these populations did not consistently diffuse into plot interiors. The potential causes and implications of findings are discussed.