Banker Plant Bonuses? The Benefits and Risks of Including Brassicas in Field Margins to Promote Conservation Biocontrol of Specialist Pests in Oilseed Rape

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Skellern, M. P., Clark, S. J., Ferguson, A. W., Watts, N. P. and Cook, S. M. 2023. Banker Plant Bonuses? The Benefits and Risks of Including Brassicas in Field Margins to Promote Conservation Biocontrol of Specialist Pests in Oilseed Rape. Insects. 14 (4), p. 349. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects14040349

AuthorsSkellern, M. P., Clark, S. J., Ferguson, A. W., Watts, N. P. and Cook, S. M.
Abstract

European agri-environment schemes include the use of flower-rich field margins to promote on-farm biodiversity, but species mixtures rarely include Brassicaceae. As pests of oilseed rape (OSR; Brassica napus) and their parasitoids are mostly brassica specialists, including brassica ‘banker plants’ in the mixtures would help support these important biocontrol agents and improve pest control throughout the crop rotation. We assessed the potential of six brassicaceous plants (replicated plots grown in the field) to enhance populations of parasitoids of OSR pests whilst minimising proliferation of their pest hosts. Fodder radish (Raphanus sativus) facilitated high production of parasitoids of the pollen beetle pest (Brassicogethes aeneus) but may proliferate Ceutorhynchus weevil pests due to low parasitism. Turnip rape (B. rapa) and the B. rapa hybrid ‘Tyfon’ showed potential to perform a trap cropping function for pests, but their early flowering phenology resulted in B. aeneus larvae escaping parasitisation, potentially assisting proliferation of this pest. Forage rape B. napus exhibited similarly high B. aeneus parasitoid production characteristics to R. sativus but did not potentiate problems with other pests, indicating that it would be a favourable banker plant option. Careful selection of plants in field margin mixtures is therefore needed to maximise their benefits and ideally the whole crop pest-beneficial complex needs to be studied, as focus on a single major pest risks unintended consequences with other pest problems

KeywordsAgri-environment schemes; Meligethes; Brassicogethes aeneus; Brassica napus; Rapeseed; Ceutorhynchus; Dasineura; Regenerative agriculture; Ecosystem services
Year of Publication2023
JournalInsects
Journal citation14 (4), p. 349
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.3390/insects14040349
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
FunderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Natural Environment Research Council
Funder project or codeAgZero+
Publisher's version
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online31 Mar 2023
Publication process dates
Accepted24 Mar 2023
ISSN2075-4450
PublisherMDPI

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