Crop Rotation on Organic Farms
Management of Insect Pests with Crop Rotation
Managing insect pests in crops without using pesticides is no easy task for organic farmers. Organic farmers rely largely on good management practices, such as crop rotations, to keep pests in check. Crop rotation is most effective against insect pests with a limited host range, long life cycle (one or fewer generations a year), and limited ability to move from one field to another. The primary goal in managing insects through crop rotation is to interfere with the needs of the pest throughout its life cycle. It is therefore important to be familiar with insect life cycles, feeding habits, and crop preferences.
Insects Controlled by Crop Rotation
Some key insect pests can be managed through crop rotation. An example is European corn borer, which can be controlled by several years without corn in the rotation. Western corn rootworm and northern corn rootworm can be easily controlled by crop rotation too. The adults have an annual life cycle and a host range restricted to grass species. Eggs are laid in the soil of a corn field during the summer months, then overwinter and hatch the next spring. If corn is rotated the next year with a corn rootworm non-host crop—small grains, soybeans, sorghum, or broadleaf crops, hatching larvae will starve and die. The field will also be free of new eggs since adult beetles seek only cornfields for depositing their eggs.
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Within This Chapter: Crop Rotation on Organic Farms
- Introduction Crop Rotation on Organic Farms
- National Organic Program Standards for Crop Rotation
- Benefits of Crop Rotation
- Management of Diseases with Crop Rotation
- Management of Insect Pests with Crop Rotation
- Mangaement of Nematodes with Crop Rotation
- Management of Weeds with Crop Rotation
- Crop Rotation Considerations