Using Flowering Plants on Strawberry Field Edges to Enhance Natural Enemies and Pollinators and Improve Pest Control and Fruit Quality

Project Overview

OS16-098
Project Type: On-Farm Research
Funds awarded in 2016: $14,996.00
Projected End Date: 03/14/2018
Grant Recipient: University of Florida
Region: Southern
State: Florida
Principal Investigator:
Justin Renkema
University of Florida

Commodities

  • Fruits: berries (strawberries)

Practices

  • Crop Production: pollination, pollinator habitat
  • Education and Training: extension, on-farm/ranch research
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, habitat enhancement
  • Pest Management: biological control, trap crops

    Project objectives:

    Our project addresses the issue of poor or lacking habitat for beneficial insects in agriculture. Through intentional management of strawberry field edges, we hope to show that pollinators and natural enemies can be conserved to provide improved pest control and crop pollination.  As a result, the need for curative insecticides will be reduced, meaning unsustainable outcomes associated with overreliance on insecticides should be mitigated and costs associated with insecticide application reduced.  As well, production of higher quality fruit will improve yields and income.

    Flowering plants will provide the necessary habitat to improve beneficial insect communities in Florida strawberry fields. Early establishment of predatory Orius will prevent thrips outbreaks crop and improve yield.  Increased abundance and diversity of pollinators will aid improving fruit set and quality.  In achieving this, input costs associated with insecticides for control will be reduced and revenue generated by greater harvest will be increased.  Therefore, our work will contribute to making the whole of strawberry production in Florida more productive, sustainable, and beneficial to the environment, public health and human communities.

    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.