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Peach orchard management strategies: aphid communities as a case study

  • Penvern, Servane
  • Bellon, Stephane
  • Fauriel, Joel
  • Sauphanor, Benoit
Publication Date
Oct 27, 2008
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Because of the various negative side effects of intensive chemical pest control practices, there is a shift in horticulture towards the adoption of alternative approaches for crop protection. In order to characterise and evaluate management strategies being used, we carried out comprehensive interviews to obtain details of the peach orchard protection schedules of 20 organic and conventional fruit farms in south-eastern France. It appeared that besides the regular use of direct control, farmers also used cultural and/or alternative methods and indicators to optimize their orchard management. Combining the latter methods with IOBC’s technical guidelines for plant protection, four strategies have been identified. Their efficacy on aphid communities was then evaluated through visual monitoring of aphids and of beneficial populations at plot level. Brachycaudus persicae and Myzus varians were the most frequent species. The two most efficient strategies were dominated by chemical treatments, whereas the two others, less detrimental to aphid antagonists, were predominantly used by organic farmers and in agreement with IOBC’s guidelines. Variations in aphid communities could be explained by: (i) the use of efficient and therefore toxic products, correlated with low infestations and low abundance and diversity of antagonists; (ii) the link between pre-blooming treatments, cultural and alternative methods (as weed strips management and manual pruning of infested branches) and high populations of aphid communities. Against all expectations, such communities were neither related with kaolin applications, nor with management of vigour and nearby environment. According to the literature, the strategies identified can be interpreted as steps towards a redesign of orchards’ protection.

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