Insect and agronomic responses in canola and wheat intercrops

  • Author / Creator
    Hummel, Jeremy
  • Intercropping systems offer potential benefits relative to monocultures of increased crop yields and improved pest control through physical, chemical, or behavioural interference and the enhancement of natural enemy populations, prompting increased predation and parasitism. Intercrops of canola (Brassica napus L.) and wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) in various proportions were investigated at three sites in Alberta, Canada, in 2005 and 2006, to determine effects on 1) agronomic parameters, including crop grain and biomass yields, crop quality (canola oil and canola and wheat protein), lodging, soil microbial communities, and wheat leaf diseases; 2) pest insects, including flea beetle (Phyllotreta spp.) (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) damage to seedling canola and root maggot (Delia spp.) (Diptera: Anthomyiidae) adult collection numbers, egg populations, and canola taproot damage; and 3) beneficial insects, including ground beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) and the predator-parasitoid Aleochara bilineata Gyllenhal (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae). Crop yields were similar in intercrops and monocultures, and benefits of intercropping were observed in enhanced crop quality characteristics in some site-years. Neither soil microorganisms nor wheat leaf diseases generally responded to intercropping regimes. Intercropping did not reduce flea beetle damage to canola seedlings. Flea beetle damage was greatest at the first true-leaf stage of canola development. Although a thiamethoxam seed treatment reduced flea beetle herbivory, untreated plots generally did not sustain greater than 20% damage, suggesting that seed treatments were usually unnecessary. Adult Delia did not respond to intercropping canola with wheat, but egg populations were lower in intercrops on a land area basis. Canola taproot damage was as much as 13% reduced in intercrops compared to monocultures. Carabid beetles appeared to respond to qualities of the intercrops and monocultures, such as ground cover, rather than to the level of vegetational diversity itself, but carabid diversity was enhanced in diverse intercrops compared to canola monocultures in one site-year. Aleochara bilineata adult populations and parasitism rates were favoured in canola monocultures, but a temporal shift in A. bilineata adult collection numbers suggests reduced preference for canola monocultures in early summer. Benefits of canola-wheat intercrops identified in this study do not appear sufficient to recommend these cropping systems for widespread adoption in western Canada.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2010
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Clayton, George (Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science)
    • Leiffers, Vic (Renewable Resources)
    • Keddie, Andrew (Biological Sciences)
    • Spaner, Dean (Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science)
    • Boivin, Guy (Horticultural Research and Development Center, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Québec)