Soil fertility management and insect pests: Harmonizing soil and plant health in agroecosystems
MetadataShow full item record
Cultural methods such as crop fertilization can affect susceptibility of plants to insect pests by altering plant tissue nutrient levels. Research shows that the ability of a crop plant to resist or tolerate insect pests and diseases is tied to optimal physical, chemical and mainly biological properties of soils. Soils with high organic matter and active soil biology generally exhibit good soil fertility. Crops grown in such soils generally exhibit lower abundance of several insect herbivores, reductions that may be attributed to a lower nitrogen content in organically farmed crops. On the other hand, farming practices, such as excessive use of inorganic fertilizers, can cause nutrient imbalances and lower pest resistance. More studies comparing pest populations on plants treated with synthetic versus organic fertilizers are needed. Understanding the underlying effects of why organic fertilization appears to improve plant health may lead us to new and better integrated pest management and integrated soil fertility management designs.