Arthropod diversity and pest dynamics in various production input levels and cropping system strategies
Economic viability and soil degradation are major issues facing farmers in the grassland ecozone of the Northern Great Plains. Crop diversification, reduced fallow and reduced inputs are being promoted in an effort to address these issues. A systems approach is applied as the experimental framework with which to monitor and assess alternate input and cropping strategies. The design, data collection and evaluation are based on the collaborative efforts of crop, pest, economic and soil scientists. This paper highlights the role of arthropods (insects, spiders, mites) in the assessment of farming systems. Arthropods are the most diverse group of organisms in most ecosystems. Many species, including beneficial and pest species, are well-suited to characterizing the ecosystems that they inhabit. Ecosystem-based, arthropod baselines are viewed by the authors as an integral component in evaluating farming systems.
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