Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Landscape Change Leads to Increased Insecticide Use in U.S. Midwest

13.07.2011
Growth of cropland, loss of natural habitat to blame

The continued growth of cropland and loss of natural habitat have increasingly simplified agricultural landscapes in the Midwest.

In a study supported in part by the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Kellogg Biological Station Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) site in Michigan--one of 26 such NSF LTER sites around the world--scientists concluded that this simplification is associated with increased crop pest abundance and insecticide use.

"This research suggests that there are simple ecological solutions--such as preservation or restoration of semi-natural lands within large agricultural regions--that could reduce the need for insecticides and contribute to agricultural economies," says Nancy Huntly, NSF program director for the network of LTER sites.

While the relationship between landscape simplification, crop pest pressure and insecticide use has been suggested before, it has not been well supported by empirical evidence, scientists say.

Results of the study, published in this week's issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, are the first to document a link between simplification and increased insecticide use.

"When you replace natural habitat with cropland, you tend to get more crop pest problems," says lead author Tim Meehan, an entomologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison).

He and other authors are affiliated with the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, one of three U.S. Department of Energy Bioenergy Research Centers, and with NSF's Kellogg Biological Station LTER site.

"Two things drive this pattern," says Meehan. "As you remove natural habitats, you remove habitat for beneficial predatory insects, and when you create more cropland you make a bigger target for pests--giving them what they need to survive and multiply."

Because landscape simplification has long been assumed to increase pest pressure, Meehan and colleagues were not surprised to find that counties with less natural habitat had higher rates of insecticide use.

One striking finding was that landscape simplification was associated with annual insecticide application to an additional 5,400 square miles--an area the size of Connecticut.

Although simplification of agricultural landscapes is likely to continue, the research suggests that the planting of perennial bioenergy crops--like switchgrass and mixed prairie--can offset some negative effects.

"Perennial crops provide year-round habitat for beneficial insects, birds, and other wildlife, and are critical for buffering streams and rivers from soil erosion and preventing nutrient and pesticide pollution," says Doug Landis, a Michigan State University entomologist and landscape ecologist who's affiliated with the Kellogg Biological Station LTER site.

Perennial grasslands that can be used for bioenergy could also provide biodiversity support, especially beneficial insect support, says Claudio Gratton, a UW-Madison entomologist.

"If we can create agricultural landscapes with increased crop diversity, then perhaps we can increase beneficial insects, reduce pest pressure and reduce the need for chemical inputs into the environment," Gratton says.

"We are at a junction right now," he believes.

"There is increased demand for renewable energy, and one big question is: where it will come from? We hope that these kinds of studies will help us forecast the impacts that bioenergy crops may have on agricultural landscapes."

Media Contacts
Cheryl Dybas, NSF (703) 292-7734 cdybas@nsf.gov
Margo Broeren, University of Wisconsin-Madison (608) 890-2168 mbroeren@glbrc.wisc.edu
Related Websites
NSF LTER Network: http://www.lternet.edu
NSF Kellogg Biological Station LTER Site: http://www.kbs.msu.edu/
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2010, its budget is about $6.9 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives over 45,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes over 11,500 new funding awards. NSF also awards over $400 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

Cheryl Dybas | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nsf.gov

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht New 3-D model predicts best planting practices for farmers
26.06.2017 | Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

nachricht Fighting a destructive crop disease with mathematics
21.06.2017 | University of Cambridge

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

Im Focus: Laser-cooled ions contribute to better understanding of friction

Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision

Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

Leipzig HTP-Forum discusses "hydrothermal processes" as a key technology for a biobased economy

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers create new technique for manipulating polarization of terahertz radiation

20.07.2017 | Information Technology

High-tech sensing illuminates concrete stress testing

20.07.2017 | Materials Sciences

First direct observation and measurement of ultra-fast moving vortices in superconductors

20.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>