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Song B.,China Agricultural University | Song B.,Beijing Key Laboratory for Agricultural Application and New Technique | Tang G.,China Agricultural University | Sang X.,China Agricultural University | And 4 more authors.
Biocontrol Science and Technology | Year: 2013

Enhancing biological control of pests through habitat management in agricultural systems has gained increasing attention. Three different aromatic plants, ageratum (Agerarum houstonianum Mill.), French marigold (Tagetes patula L.) and basil (Ocimum basilicum L.), were chosen as intercrops for apple orchards to evaluate the effects of intercropping on Aphis citricola Van der Goot and its local natural enemies in China. We found that compared with natural vegetation, A. citricola abundance was significantly decreased by 29.26%, 35.80% and 38.28% in plots intercropped with ageratum, French marigold and basil, respectively. The number of natural enemies of A. citricola in plots intercropped with T. patula and O. basilicum were significantly higher than in plots of natural vegetation. Equally important, intercropping affected the composition of natural enemies and the population dynamics of A. citricola and its natural enemies. Annual cumulative numbers of natural enemies were significantly negatively correlated with A. citricola annual cumulative individual numbers except for O. tantillus. Our results demonstrate that intercropping with aromatic plants could be an effective method for biological control of A. citricola in apple orchards. © 2013 Taylor & Francis. Source


Song B.,China Agricultural University | Song B.,Beijing Key Laboratory for Agricultural Application and New Technique | Jiao H.,China Agricultural University | Jiao H.,Beijing Key Laboratory for Agricultural Application and New Technique | And 3 more authors.
Florida Entomologist | Year: 2014

Non-host plants that are intercropped with crops can either repel or attract pests, and in some cases achieve pest management. Three aromatic plant species, ageratum (Ageratum houstonianum L.; Asterales: Asteraceae), French marigold (Tagetes patula L.; Asterales: Asteraceae) and summer savory (Satureja hortensis L.; Lamiales: Lamiaceae), were intercropped in ratios of 1:1 or 1:1:1 in an organic apple orchard to investigate the community characteristics and dynamic changes in densities of the Tortricidae species Adoxophyes orana Fisher, Spilonota lechriaspis Meyrick and Acleris fimbriana Thunberg and their natural enemies in 3 vertical strata of the orchard. Intercropping aromatic plants in the orchard increased the densities of natural enemies belonging to the Trichogrammatidae, Ichneumonidae and Braconidae and reduced the rates of increase and the densities of the tortricid species relative to the control. A correlation analysis of the densities of pest species and the densities of parasitoids indicated that the reduction in some tortricid species was related to the densities of certain natural enemy species. We concluded that intercropping with aromatic plants in apple orchards can increase the biological control of tortricid pests. © Florida Entomologist 2014. Source


Song B.,China Agricultural University | Song B.,Beijing Key Laboratory for Agricultural Application and New Technique | Zhang J.,China Agricultural University | Zhang J.,Beijing Key Laboratory for Agricultural Application and New Technique | And 5 more authors.
Environmental Entomology | Year: 2012

Habitat management is important for the regulation of arthropod community structures to reduce pest populations in orchard ecosystems, but there is limited information on how intercropping with aromatic plants regulates arthropod community structure at trophic levels. We selected four aromatic plants, Mentha canadensis L., Agerarum houstonianum Mill, Tagetes patula L., and Ocimum basilicum L., as intercrops in apple orchard to analyze the effects of intercropping on herbivore and predator abundance, species richness, and to measure the changes of trophic levels of the associated arthropod community. We found that intercropping with aromatic plants, compared with intercropping with natural herb vegetation, significantly reduced herbivore abundance and species richness by 25.62 and 11.6%, respectively. Intercropping significantly increased predator abundance and species richness by 18.78 and 15.6%, respectively, with predator abundance most notably affected during the flowering period of aromatic plants. Furthermore, herbivore abundance and species richness were strongly negatively correlated with predator species richness. Intercropping affected herbivore-predator dynamics, with an observed increase in the ratios of predator abundance and richness to herbivore abundance and richness. Our results indicate that intercropping with aromatic plants in apple orchards may play a role in the observed shift from a herbivore-dominated to a predator-dominated trophic structure, which is likely to have important flow-on effects on arthropod community structure. © 2012 Entomological Society of America. Source


Wan H.H.,China Agricultural University | Wan H.H.,Beijing Key Laboratory for Agricultural Application and New Technique | Song B.Z.,China Agricultural University | Song B.Z.,Beijing Key Laboratory for Agricultural Application and New Technique | And 4 more authors.
Agroforestry Systems | Year: 2015

The interactions of major pests with their natural enemies in the environment of intercropped orchards have recently received much attention. In this study, eight aromatic plant species, namely Mentha canadensis L. (Lamiaceae), Tagetes patula L. (Asteraceae), Ocimum basilicum L. (Lamiaceae), Satureja hortensis L. (Lamiaceae), Agerarum houstonianum Mill (Asteraceae), Ocimum × citriodorum Vis. (Lamiaceae), Nepeta cataria L. (Lamiaceae) and Centaurea cyanus L. (Asteraceae), were used to evaluate the effects of intercropping with aromatic plants on Comstock mealybugs (Pseudococcus comstocki Kuwana) and their natural predators. The effects of meteorological factors on Comstock mealybug were also investigated. Compared with natural grass or clean tillage plots, intercropping with aromatic plants significantly reduced the abundance of Comstock mealybugs and increased that of their predators, thereby increasing the ratio of natural enemies to pests. In the intercropped plots, the individual number Comstock mealybugs was reduced by 22.71–76.76 %; the peak period for Comstock mealybugs was delayed by 10–20 days, and the peak period for their predators was advanced by 0–60 days. The presence of Comstock mealybugs was significantly positively correlated with precipitation in all plots and significantly negatively correlated with sunshine duration. In conclusion, intercropping with aromatic plants significantly reduced the individual number of Comstock mealybugs, especially intercropping with A. houstonianum. Furthermore, this effect was enhanced during the summer months with high precipitation levels and long periods of sunshine. © 2015, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. Source


Chen X.,China Agricultural University | Chen X.,Beijing Key Laboratory for Agricultural Application and New Technique | Song B.,China Agricultural University | Song B.,Beijing Key Laboratory for Agricultural Application and New Technique | And 5 more authors.
Science of the Total Environment | Year: 2014

Aromatic plants can substantially improve the diversity and structure of arthropod communities, as well as reduce the number of herbivore pests and regulate the abundance of predators and parasitoids. However, it is not clear whether aromatic plants are also effective in improving soil quality by enhancing nutrient cycling. Here, field experiments are described involving intercropping with aromatic plants to investigate their effect on soil nitrogen (N) cycling in an orchard ecosystem. The results indicate that the soil organic nitrogen and available nitrogen contents increased significantly in soils intercropped with aromatic plants. Similarly, the activities of soil protease and urease increased, together with total microbial biomass involved in N cycling, including nitrifying bacteria, denitrifying bacteria and azotobacters, as well as the total numbers of bacteria and fungi. This suggests that aromatic plants improve soil N cycling and nutrient levels by enriching the soil in organic matter through the regulation of both the abundance and community structure of microorganisms, together with associated soil enzyme activity, in orchard ecosystems. © 2013 Elsevier B.V. Source

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