Determining the role of crop and non-crop habitats to provide sustainable aphid suppression in soybeans

Crop Soybean
Start Date2017
End Date2020
Principal InvestigatorCostamagna, Alejandro , University of Manitoba
MPSG Financial Support$215,677
Total Project Funding$215,677

Research Objectives

  1. Determine the effect of field size and distance to the nearest source of natural enemies on soybean aphid control
  2. Determine landscape effects on the fitness of predators suppressing aphids in soybeans
  3. Identify key crop and non-crop habitats in the agricultural landscape that produce healthy and effective assemblages of generalist predators
This research will estimate for the first time the fitness and associated efficacy of predators of soybean aphid in North America. This study will provide the basis to manage predator populations that suppress aphids in soybeans and other pulse crops

Project Description

This research will determine specific habitats in the landscape that favor generalist predators that attack aphids in soybeans and in other crops, including peas and beans. We will determine the ideal proportion of crop and non-crop habitats that can sustain viable and effective populations of predators that can attack aphids and related pests, and the distance at which these predators can be effective. With this knowledge, producers can plan within-farm rotations that include crops that contribute to build up predator populations early in the season, before aphid colonization to soybeans. In addition, producers can preserve / establish patches of natural vegetation that benefit not only pollinators but also predators and locate them at distances that allow effective predator dispersal into the field. Farmers can also use the information generated in this research to determine the approximate risk that their soybean fields faced depending on the agricultural landscape in which they are located and monitor them more often if they are located in landscapes with limited sources of predators. The ultimate goal of this research is to maximize the fitness and physiological conditions of predators present in agricultural landscapes by determining the best habitats for them at different times during the season and the proportion and distances within the landscape at which these habitats need to be present to support effective predator populations. This knowledge will allow producers to manage the crop and non-crop habitats in their farms to maximize the ecosystem services provided predators and reduced the reliance on insecticide to control aphid pests. Although most of these predators are mainly aphidophagous, they can also contribute to pest suppression in various crops, by attacking thrips, young instars of Lygus, and moth eggs.