African Journal of
Agricultural Research

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Agric. Res.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1991-637X
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJAR
  • Start Year: 2006
  • Published Articles: 6576

Review

The potential use of cover crops for building soil quality and as trap crops for stinkbugs in sub-tropical fruit orchards: Knowledge gaps and research needs

J. N. Steyn*
  • J. N. Steyn*
  • Department of Ecology and Resource Management, University of Venda, South Africa.
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J. E. Crafford
  • J. E. Crafford
  • Department of Zoology,University of Venda, South Africa.
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S. vdM. Louw
  • S. vdM. Louw
  • Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of the Free State, South Africa.
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S. R. Gliessman
  • S. R. Gliessman
  • Department of Environmental Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz, California, USA.
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  •  Received: 29 August 2013
  •  Accepted: 16 April 2014
  •  Published: 08 May 2014

Abstract

There is a renewed interest in cover crops and the role they can play in the pursuit of sustainability in agroecosystems. These versatile crops have not only demonstrated the ability to improve soil but numerous species have also shown the potential to act as trap crops for insect pests. We suggest that cover crops may concurrently serve both these purposes in sub-tropical fruit orchards, depending on the choice and application thereof. We recommend that cover crops should be investigated for this dual purpose and propose a selection of soil health indicators for measuring the resulting changes in the soil. We suggest that cover crops will be more effective if the biodiversity within and adjacent to the main crop can be increased through habitat manipulation to enhance natural enemies of pest insects. A selection of cover crops that have the added potential as trap crops for stink bugs have also been identified for investigation.

Key words: Cover crops, soil quality, soil health indicators, trap crops, sub-tropical fruit orchards, diversification, natural enemies, pentatomid, stink bugs.