Crop rotation is a standard part of vegetable crop production. At its core, crop rotation is a pest management tactic meant to disrupt pest life cycles and decrease the incidence of economically damaging infestations of insects and pathogens. However, surprisingly little scientific research appears to have explored which rotations are most effective for breaking pest life cycles. The Mid-Atlantic Commercial Vegetable Production Guide, for example, does not provide any specific rotations, and just provides this general advice: “Separate similar crops or families of crops as much as possible.” If one digs around online, some rotations are recommended by some prominent organic vegetable growers, but the scientific justification of these rotations is not clear.
To better understand the value of diversity in crop rotations, researchers in the Departments of Entomology at Penn State and Purdue University are collaborating to explore how crop species relatedness influences insect pest populations in crop rotations. At the same time, we are also asking how crop species relatedness of adjacent plantings influences insect pests.
To properly address these questions, however, we need to establish the justification for current typical rotations and field layouts used by commercial vegetable growers. Therefore, we need feedback from as many commercial vegetable farmers as possible. To gather this feedback, we have established an online survey with 15 questions that should take someone less than 5 minutes to complete.
The online Survey: Crop Choices
Thank you for providing your feedback!
New Penn State research is exploring the value of plant species relatedness in vegetable crop rotations. Specifically, how distantly related do crop species need to be to gain insect pest control benefits in a rotation or if crops are adjacent to each other, like these beans and squash? Photo: John Tooker, Penn State