Simplification of the agricultural landscape due to expansive monocultures of individual crops reduces habitat diversity and has long been believed to increase insect pest pressure with a resulting need for more insecticides. This assumption seems logical, but has lacked supporting scientific evidence, evidence needed to establish a science-based land-use policy that includes dedicated bioenergy crops. Now, researchers at the DOE Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC) have reported an analysis of cropping systems across 562 counties in seven Midwestern states. They found a significant correlation between insecticide use and land simplification (i.e., less natural habitat). The results suggest that plantings of more minimally managed perennial bioenergy crops requiring less insecticide use may mitigate some of the negative effects associated with continued simplification. This study provides a scientific basis for understanding the impact that the greater demand for bioenergy feedstocks will have on the agricultural landscape.
Reference: Meehan, T. D., B. P. Werling, D. A. Landis, and C. Gratton. 2011. "Agricultural Landscape Simplification and Insecticide Use in the Midwestern United States," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 108, 11500–505. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1100751108.
Contact: Cathy Ronning, SC-23.2, (301) 903-9549
SC-33.2 Biological Systems Science Division, BER
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