Enhancing natural enemies to control pests in apple orchards is an alternative to using pesticides. Scientists Salliou et al. compared what the stakeholders perceive to be the impact of different strategies developed to enhance natural enemies. They identified greater expectation from biological control with habitat management within orchards than from engineering the surrounding landscape.
Weeds represent an important obstacle to wheat production, particularly in low-input and organic systems. Scientists Lazzaro et al. combined genetic with agroecological approaches to study weed competition related traits in wheat. They show the high potential of interdisciplinary research for selecting more competitive wheat cultivars as valid support to sustainable integrated weed management.
Worldwide crop production sustainability is threatened by weed resistance to herbicides. Scientists Mascanzoni et al. demonstrated in Italy that a high risk of resistance evolution is associated with traditional rice cultivation systems opting for monoculture, water-seeding, and less diversified herbicide strategies. They showed that dry seeding and crop rotation rate are negatively correlated with resistance occurrence.
Scientists Baraibar et al. showed that in the fall, early planting resulted in larger weed biomass in all cover crop types, but grasses and mixtures were more weed suppressive than legumes and brassicas. In the spring, cover crops with large biomass consistently limited weed growth. Their results may help farmers achieve multifunctional cover crops coping with production and conservation.
Weedy rice is one of the worst weeds worldwide, capable of severely decreasing yield in rice fields. Scientists Gao et al. recently showed that combine harvesters are major agents of weedy rice seed dispersal within fields and across rice-growing areas. They recommend that fields severely infested with weedy rice should be harvested separately in order to avoid accumulation of weed seeds in the combine harvester and their subsequent dispersal.
The sustainable supply of cocoa beans is at stake due to the Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus Disease, that has ravaged hundreds of millions of trees in West Africa. Scientists Andres et al. showed that farmers with better access to information, a larger farm, and more secure land tenure rights were more likely to adopt preventive measures against this disease. They recommend, therefore, to relay prevention information to Ghanaian cocoa farmers on local radio, TV stations or mobile devices to help limit the spread of the disease.
Integrating smartphone apps into farmer’s decision process can facilitate sustainable crop protection. Scientists Bonke et al. studied the acceptance of crop protection apps from an economic perspective. Their results show that the large majority of German farmers are willing to pay for these apps and that, amongst others, the potential to reduce negative environmental effects and costs have a positive influence on this willingness to pay for such applications.
Weed management is a challenging issue in the context of pesticide reduction. Scientists Petit et al. recently reviewed several options for the biological regulation of arable weeds: weed – (cover) crop competition, weed seed granivory by invertebrates and weed interactions with pathogenic fungi. However, the understanding of these biodiversity-based options and their performance in weed biocontrol requires the implementation of farm-scale experimental trials in future.
Synthetic chemicals, which can be incorporated in either pesticides or insect sex pheromones, have been extensively used against vine and citrus pest mealybugs worldwide. Scientists Mansour et al. reviewed the current knowledge on mealybug control based on these synthetic chemicals. Mixing pheromones and insecticides with novel modes of action, long-lasting efficacy and less adverse side effects on beneficial arthropods is a promising strategy for pest management in vineyards and citrus orchards.
Copper-based antimicrobial compounds are widely applied against crop diseases although their use threatens production sustainability. Scientists Lamichhane et al. review those compounds and highlight their benefits and risks. They emphasize the potentials for their improvement and present the opportunities for alternatives.