Publications Plus online catalog
This Land
50 Ways Farmers Can Protect Their Groundwater
50 ways 57 ways 60 ways

11. Know How Crop Rotation Affects Insects

western corn rootworm

Crop rotations can work well for pests that are relatively nonmobile, that feed on specific crops, and that overwinter in the soil as eggs or partially grown larvae. By rotating to a different crop, you prepare a surprise for these insects when they become active in spring. They discover that their food source is gone.

Crop rotations cannot solve all insect problems, but they help manage some of the worst pests, such as northern and western corn rootworm. (In east-central Illinois, rotations have had less effect on western corn rootworm. ) Insecticide use for rootworms is greater than for any other insect pest in the Corn Belt. Therefore, by managing corn rootworms culturally, you reduce insecticide use, save money, and protect the environment.

intercropping Another way to increase plant diversity is through intercropping, the practice of growing two or more crops simultaneously in one field. Intercropping comes in many forms, but for field crops in the Midwest, the most practical form is stripcropping—alternating multiple rows of crops (usually four or more rows per strip).
Stripcropping Stripcropping can result in more balanced insect populations with an increase in beneficial insects. Mixed crop stands can also make it more difficult for pests to locate their host plants. Exactly how much impact these diversified systems have on insect populations and yields is still the subject of debate.

University of Illinois Logo