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Article

Organic Farming and Cover-Crop Management Reduce Pest Predation in Austrian Vineyards

1
Institute for Environmental Sciences, University of Koblenz-Landau, iES Landau, Fortstraße 7, D-76829 Landau in der Pfalz, Germany
2
Julius Kühn Institute, Federal Research Institute for Cultivated Plants, Institute for Plant Protection in Fruit Crops and Viticulture, Geilweilerhof, D-76833 Siebeldingen, Germany
3
Institute of Plant Protection, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Gregor-Mendel-Str. 33, A-1180 Vienna, Austria
4
Institute for Integrative Nature Conservation Research, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Gregor-Mendel-Str. 33, A-1180 Vienna, Austria
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Daniele Sommaggio, David G. James and Giovanni Burgio
Insects 2021, 12(3), 220; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12030220
Received: 30 January 2021 / Revised: 23 February 2021 / Accepted: 27 February 2021 / Published: 4 March 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Improving Functional Biodiversity in Vineyards)
Global declines in arthropods necessitate a rethinking of current agricultural practices. Organic farming, complex landscapes with high proportions of seminatural habitats and local vineyard management practices such as implementation of flower-rich cover-crop mixtures may be a promising approach to enhance arthropod biodiversity and, thus, natural pest control in viticulture. We examined effects of organic farming, different types of vineyard inter-row vegetation, and landscape composition on natural pest control of a major grapevine pest, the grape berry moth Lobesia botrana, and identified its dominant natural enemies. Surprisingly, natural pest control was reduced by sown cover-crops and organic farming. Interestingly, bush crickets were one of the most dominant natural enemies in the Austrian study region. Negative effects of organic farming in our study are most likely related to high fungicide inputs. Thus, a promising approach to reduce fungicide input and, therefore, promote a more sustainable viticulture may be the implementation of fungus-resistant grape varieties.
Habitat simplification and intensive use of pesticides are main drivers of global arthropod declines and are, thus, decreasing natural pest control. Organic farming, complex landscapes, and local vineyard management practices such as implementation of flower-rich cover-crop mixtures may be a promising approach to enhance predator abundance and, therefore, natural pest control. We examined the effect of organic versus integrated management, cover-crop diversity in the vineyard inter-rows, and landscape composition on the natural pest control of Lobesia botrana eggs and pupae. Predation of L. botrana pupae was reduced by organic farming and species-poor cover-crops by about 10%. Predation rates of L. botrana eggs did not differ significantly in any of the studied management options. Dominant predators were earwigs (Forficulidae), bush crickets (Tettigoniidae), and ants (Formicidae). Negative effects of organic viticulture are most likely related to the negative nontarget effects on arthropods related to the frequent sulfur and copper applications in combination with the avoidance of strongly damaging insecticides by integrated winegrowers. While a 10% difference in predation rates on a single pest stage is unlikely to have strong practical implications, our results show that the assumed effectiveness of environmentally friendly agriculture needs to be evaluated for specific crops and regions. View Full-Text
Keywords: natural pest control; Lobesia botrana; grape berry moth; integrated vineyards; cover-crop management; sentinel cards; viticulture natural pest control; Lobesia botrana; grape berry moth; integrated vineyards; cover-crop management; sentinel cards; viticulture
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MDPI and ACS Style

Reiff, J.M.; Kolb, S.; Entling, M.H.; Herndl, T.; Möth, S.; Walzer, A.; Kropf, M.; Hoffmann, C.; Winter, S. Organic Farming and Cover-Crop Management Reduce Pest Predation in Austrian Vineyards. Insects 2021, 12, 220. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12030220

AMA Style

Reiff JM, Kolb S, Entling MH, Herndl T, Möth S, Walzer A, Kropf M, Hoffmann C, Winter S. Organic Farming and Cover-Crop Management Reduce Pest Predation in Austrian Vineyards. Insects. 2021; 12(3):220. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12030220

Chicago/Turabian Style

Reiff, Jo M., Sebastian Kolb, Martin H. Entling, Thomas Herndl, Stefan Möth, Andreas Walzer, Matthias Kropf, Christoph Hoffmann, and Silvia Winter. 2021. "Organic Farming and Cover-Crop Management Reduce Pest Predation in Austrian Vineyards" Insects 12, no. 3: 220. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12030220

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