Protecting crops and provisioning biodiversity
Modern agricultural practices are challenged to balance the trade-offs of intensifying production while simultaneously preserving biodiversity and human health. At regional scales, intensive agriculture frequently results in reduced native lands to support the very biodiversity required for sustainable productivity. However, within farms, growers have the opportunity to enhance biodiversity and associated insect mediated services such as biological control and pollination through cover cropping and wildflower pollinator habitats. UGA entomologists are addressing these challenges in cotton, blueberry and rotational row crop systems. Projects explore the attractiveness of native wildflower species for promoting ecosystem services, cover cropping for promoting early season biological control and reducing chemical inputs, and landscape composition and configuration effects on beneficial organisms. Results from these studies have determined that cover cropping can boost early season biodiversity and suggests improved pest control. This work is generating information that cotton growers and blueberry growers of the southeast need to improve sustainability in practices and to help them conserve native pollinators and biological control agents.