- Agronomic: corn, soybeans
- Crop Production: conservation tillage
- Education and Training: display
- Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity
- Pest Management: biological control, integrated pest management, weed ecology
- Soil Management: green manures
This is a research project designed to increase weed seed loss due to seed predation by beneficial soil invertebrates. The goal of the research is to use a reduced tillage system along with a hairy vetch cover crop to minimize chemical and mechanical inputs. Such integrated crop management systems will benefit farmers in the Northeast region by providing cost-effective pest, crop and soil management, and provide improved environmental quality. Experimentation will be conducted at Penn State’s Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center in Rock Springs, PA from 2010 -2011. Pitfall traps will be used to access the invertebrate community and seed cards will be used to determine their effect on weed seed removal. A laboratory choice study will be conducted to determine if weed seeds removed are species specific thereby facilitating a dominance shift in the weed community. Based on preliminary experimentation, it is expected that a surface tillage system will not have a direct negative impact on the invertebrate community and will therefore enhance the pest management services that these organisms provide. This will decrease the density of the weed seed bank and make weed management using reduced mechanical tillage and reduced herbicide application more feasible and reliable for farmers. Decreased reliance on herbicides will lessen costs for farmers and create a healthier environment for society.
Project objectives from proposal:
Objective 1: Determine if the integration of legume green manure crops into reduced tillage cropping systems will enhance the diversity, abundance and activity of the beneficial ground dwelling invertebrate community, and thereby the pest management services with respect to
weed seed predation.
Objective 2: Determine if weed seed ‘debits’ from the soil seed bank by invertebrate seed predators are weed species specific, thereby facilitating a shift in the weed community composition.