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Individual study: Organic pepper production systems using compost and cover crops

Published source details

Delate K., Friedrich H. & Lawson V. (2003) Organic pepper production systems using compost and cover crops. Biological Agriculture & Horticulture, 21, 131-150


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Convert to organic farming Natural Pest Control

A randomised, replicated, controlled study in 1998-2000 in Iowa, USA (Delate et al. 2003) found similar numbers of natural enemies in organic pepper Capsicum annuum plots (averaging 0.002-0.003 individuals/plant) and conventional plots (0.001-0.004 individuals) in 2000. Natural enemies included seven-spot ladybird Coccinella septempunctata, common green lacewing Chrysoperla carnea and spiders Araneae. In 1999, peppers had 0.25-0.58 natural enemies/plant in organic plots compared with 0.08-0.35 in conventional plots. Numbers of pest corn borer Ostrinia nubilalis larvae were similar between organic (0-0.04 individuals/plant) and conventional (0-0.02 individuals) plots in 1999-2000. Crop damage averaged 3-8.5 blemishes/fruit on organic peppers compared with 8.5-12.5 blemishes on conventional peppers in 2000. Pepper yields were generally similar between organic (7-38 peppers/plant) and conventional (6-47 peppers) plots in 1998-2000. Where significant yield differences were found these depended on the fertilizer regime and were not consistent between years. Organic plots received mechanical weed control and organic (or no) fertilizer. Conventional plots received herbicide and synthetic (or no) fertilizer. Organic management was tested in 16 or 24 plots (1998 and 1999-2000, respectively) and conventional management in 12 plots. Plots were 8 x 3 m and insects (natural enemies and pests) and yield were assessed for 10 plants/plot.