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Your Farm's integrated pest management program (IPM) might include a variety of pest control tactics. Cover crops can be a valuable addition to an IPM as a sustainable, long-term practice, according to Justin McMechan, assistant professor for crop protection and cropping systems with University of Nebraska Extension.
No-Till Farmer: What are some benefits to using cover crops to control pests instead of a pesticide?
McMechan: A large majority of insecticides are very broad spectrum, meaning they kill a lot of different kinds of bugs. Pesticides cost money to apply, generally wipe out the system, including the good bugs like spiders, carabid beetles, etc., and leave the system blank for something new to come in that’s potentially worse — like black cutworms or common stalk borer. We do need insecticides on occasion, they are of value, but it really depends on the scenario. Cover crops align themselves with proper management under an area of potential preventative management by increasing the ecosystem services they serve and reducing potential pest pressure.
NTF: What are some important considerations when a grower wants to use cover crops in an IPM?
McMechan: One of the main things to think about is when to terminate a cover crop…