Wheat-pea intercropping for aphid control: from laboratory tritrophic approach to field application
By: Thomas Lopes, Haibo Zhou, Julian Chen, Yong Liu, Bernard Bodson, Frédéric Francis
Key Words: Triticum aestivum, Pisum sativum, Aphididae, Biological control.
Int. J. Agr. Agri. Res. 9(3), 20-33, September 2016.
Intercropping is an interesting practice to promote the sustainable control of insect pests such as aphids. In particular, volatile organic compounds emitted by aphid-infested intercropped plants may deter other aphid species from their host plants, while attracting natural enemies. In this study, olfactometer and net-cage behavioural assays were first conducted to determine the effect of wheat-pea mixtures combined with aphid infestations on odour preferences of the wheat aphid Sitobion avenae and two associated predator species, the ladybird Harmonia axyridis and the hoverfly Episyrphus balteatus. Healthy wheat plants were preferred by S. avenae, while wheat-pea mixtures combined with aphid infestations were significantly less attractive. H. axyridis preferred odours from healthy wheat plants mixed with aphid-infested pea plants. As for E. balteatus, their searching and oviposition behaviours were stimulated by the different wheat/pea combinations associated with aphid infestations. A field trial was also carried to compare the effect of mix and strip cropping wheat with pea on aphids and their natural enemies with both monocultures. Wheat and pea aphid populations were significantly reduced by both types of intercropping when compared to monocultures. Moreover, higher abundances of hoverflies, lacewings and ladybirds were found in wheat mixed with pea field, followed by strip cropping and monocultures. These findings show that wheat-pea intercropping can be efficient to reduce aphid populations, namely by promoting their biological control.