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

    Proposal abstract:

    The purpose of this project is to explore the potential of a form of intercropping as a method of pest regulation, more commonly known as "push-pull agriculture." This farming method often involves the use of three different plant varieties: a cash or main crop, "push" or repellent plants, and "pull" or attractant plants. The agroecological approach of "push-pull" agriculture can not only help avoid the ecological implications of broad insecticides, but can also help organic and transitioning farmers as a more sustainable option as it also reduces the need and dependence on expensive organic-approved pesticides. Any technology that helps farmers avoid the negative social and ecological repercussion of pesticide use, while positively increasing economic implications, are welcome. The project will explore the potential of "push-pull" intercropping to provide a method of agroecological pest management that preserves the ecological integrity of both south Texas farmland and its stewards.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    • Observe the movement of specific pests and predators in response to chemical volatiles within a controlled, laboratory environment.
    • Using the data on insect movement within a controlled environment to set up a field scale project that examines the appropriate combination of push and pull plants to help deter pest populations on brassica crops.
    • Characterize the seniochemicals in the push and pull plants.
    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.