Demand for agricultural production systems that are both economically viable and environmentally conscious continues to increase. In recent years, reduced tillage systems, and grass and pasture rotations have been investigated to help maintain or improve soil quality, increase crop yield, and decrease labor requirements for production. However, documentation of the effects of reduced tillage, fescue rotation systems as well as other management practices, including pesticides, on pest damage and soil arthropod activity in peanut production for the Mid-Atlantic US region is still limited. Therefore, this project was implemented to assess impacts of fescue-based rotation systems on pests and other soil organisms when compared with cash crop rotation systems over four locations in eastern North Carolina. In addition, the effects of tillage (strip vs. conventional) and soil chlorpyrifos application on pod damage and soil-dwelling organisms were also evaluated. Soil arthropod populations were assessed by deploying pitfall traps containing 50% ethanol in each of the sampled plots. Results from the present study provide evidence that location significantly impacts pest damage and soil arthropod diversity in peanut fields. Cropping history also influenced arthropod diversity, with higher diversity in fescue compared with cash crop fields. Corn rootworm damage to pods was higher at one of our locations (Rocky Mount) compared with all others. Cropping history (fescue vs. cash crop) did not have an effect on rootworm damage, but increased numbers of hymenopterans, acarina, heteropterans, and collembolans in fescue compared with cash crop fields. Interestingly, there was an overall tendency for higher number of soil arthropods in traps placed in chlorpyrifos-treated plots compared with nontreated controls.
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Vol. 44 • No. 4