The Effect of Tillage on Arthropod Population Dynamics in Organic Summer Squash (Cucurbita pepo)

Monday, June 1, 2015
Big Basin (Manhattan Conference Center)
Amanda Skidmore , Entomology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
Ric Bessin , Department of Entomology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
The Cucurbitaceae plants (pumpkins, squash, melons, cucumbers, etc.) are major food sources and economically important for much of globe. In organic growing systems cucurbit yields often have high profitability, but arthropod spread diseases and feeding damages can be devastating for growers. Three of the most economically important arthropod pests of cucurbits are the striped cucumber beetle (Acalymma vittatum), spotted cucumber beetle (Diabrotica undecimpunctata howardi), and squash bug (Anasa tristis). A variety of insecticides are costly and insufficient in controlling these pests in many growing regions in the United States. Tillage regimes have been shown to have an effect on arthropod population dynamics and are a cultural control method that can reduce costs for growers. Our experiment presented an integrated approach, comparing the effects of conventional tillage with black plastic raised beds and strip tillage in the production of organic summer squash (Cucurbita pepo) grown in central Kentucky. Various arthropod surveys were conducted over the 2013 and 2014 growing seasons, and both pest and beneficial arthropods were recorded.  Results showed higher yields and greater arthropod diversity in plots with plastic covered raised beds and conventional tillage. Lower yields and decreased arthropod diversity were observed in the strip tillage plots.