Kentucky Soybean Farmers' Supportiveness of Two Integrated Pest and Pollinator Management Tactics

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Beneficial insect conservation in agriculture is often studied in the context of integrated pest management (IPM). For instance, vegetative field edges provide habitat and changing the timing of insecticidal sprays decreases risk for pollinators and natural enemies of insect pests. However, the attitudes and confidence of U.S. growers towards IPM implementation in traditional row crops remain understudied. We developed an online survey using a convenience sample and surveyed Kentucky soybean growers to understand their current pest and general management practices, beliefs about sources of insect pests/weeds, and attitudes towards pollinators. We also asked about their willingness to implement two management tactics - maintaining tree-lined field edges and changing the timing of their combination insecticide/fungicide sprays to avoid flowering. Our data indicate that many Kentucky soybean growers already use crop rotation, no-till soil management, and limit insecticide application based on high pest abundance. When asked about their management of field edges, the most common responses included removal of trees/shrubs, mowing, or herbicide application. Growers also believed that nationally, farmers can influence pollinator populations and that a portion of the soybean yield is due to pollinator activity within crop fields. However, they were less willing to maintain tree lines as a habitat for natural enemies and pollinators out of concern for the increased spread of weeds and insect pests. Given these findings, we need to evaluate the perceived and actual trade-offs of weed and insect pest management in future on-farm conservation efforts for beneficial insects such as pollinators using integrated pest and pollinator management.

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Journal of Integrated Pest Management

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