Controlling pest damage in vegetable production has long been a challenge for farmers and gardeners in all areas, especially in organic and sustainable agriculture systems. Use of chemicals, even organic options, have real disadvantages for the producer and the customer.
Studies have shown that having diversity when planting can lessen pest damage, but the exact reasons why have been not well understood. The Appropriate/Inappropriate Landing theory (Finch, Collier) says that pests follow a three-step process when selecting a host plant: Traveling to an area with the host plant via specific odors, using visual stimuli to land on a green surface, and making a few short flights to neighboring leaves. To be successful, the insect must make consecutive “appropriate” landings on a host plant to stimulate egg laying, non-host “inappropriate” landings resets the egg laying process.
We are proposing that this theory provides a sustainable way to lessen the damage made by pest insects, without the use of chemical insecticides. We would investigate the various companion planting options for pumpkins to provide sustainable options that would be low-cost, lessen labor inputs and effective against extensive pest pressure.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Interplant 5 different companion planting options for pumpkins, including an artificial greenery option, over bare soil to evaluate pest damage and pressure.
- Compare companion plantings to artificial greenery to evaluate effectiveness of Appropriate/Inappropriate Landing theory in pumpkin production.
- Identify most and least effective options for insect pest damage control of companion planting options.
- Present research at annual OEFFA conference, information session, and website.