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Agroecological diversification strategies to enhance biological pest regulation in horticultural systems

Altieri, M.A., Nicholls, C.I.
Acta horticulturae 2012 no.933 pp. 35-41
agroecosystems, beneficial arthropods, biodiversity, biogeochemical cycles, cropping systems, horticulture, natural enemies, pest control, pests, plant protection, pollinators, production technology, recycling, soil, soil biology, soil fertility, soil quality, vineyards, California
Agroecology utilizes principles to favor natural processes and biological interactions and synergies so that biodiverse horticultural agroecosystems are able to sponsor their own soil fertility, crop protection and productivity through the activation of soil biology, the recycling of nutrients, the enhancement of beneficial arthropods and antagonists. Based on these principles agroecologists have developed diversification strategies to achieve crop health and soil quality key pillars of agroecosystem health. The main goal is to enhance the immunity of the agroecosystem (e.g., natural pest control mechanisms) and regulatory processes (i.e., nutrient cycling) through agroecological designs that enhance functional biodiversity (soil biota, natural enemies, pollinators, etc.) that play ecological roles in the agroecosystem. Results from agroecological experiments conducted in California on cruciferous cropping systems and vineyards are used to illustrate the potential of agroecology and biodiversity enhancement for pest regulation in horticultural production systems.