Agroecological methods to manage brassica pests on organic farms

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2016: $11,000.00
Projected End Date: 02/28/2018
Grant Recipient: University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley
Region: Southern
State: Texas
Graduate Student:
Major Professor:
Dr. Alexis Racelis
University of Texas - Rio Grande Valley


  • Vegetables: greens (leafy)


  • Pest Management: integrated pest management


    For farmers interested in transitioning to organic agriculture, or those that look for more sustainable options as they choose to avoid both the economic or ecological costs associated with conventional pesticide use, conservation biological control (CBC) may be a viable and attractive option.  CBC encourages the presence of native, beneficial predatory insects to regulate pest prevalence. This project builds on preliminary work that has been done exploring strategic intercropping as a method of pest regulation. This farming method, commonly known as push/pull agriculture, often involves the use of three different plant varieties 1) a cash or main crop, 2) “push” or repellent plant(s), and 3) “pull” or attractant plant(s) which function to attract both pests and their natural enemies.

    This project tested the efficacy of various plant species as potential push-pull components on an organic vegetable farm in south Texas. An on-farm planting strategy incorporating push/pull components was employed to assess damage caused by green peach aphids (Myzus persicae (Sulzer)) and total plant biomass relative to a particular companion plant.

    Project objectives:

    • Develop a planting strategy that allows the growth of kale alongside a push/pull companion plant.
    • Assess kale cash crop for total biomass and green peach aphid impact relative to companion plant identity.
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.