Integrated pest management in fruit farms of semi-arid Brazil: the role of semi-natural habitat

Lead Research Organisation: University of East Anglia
Department Name: Graduate Office


Integrated pest management (IPM) is an approach to managing pests and pest damage sustainably during crop production. In IPM, synthetic pesticides are a last resort, used after habitat management strategies, pest monitoring and prediction, and biological control measures have been ineffective. This PhD focuses on the first rung of IPM - the use of general habitat and ecosystem management measures to support natural pest regulation - sometimes called conservation biological control.
Recent evidence shows that conserving habitat around farms is sometimes, but not always in farmers' interests, as far as pest management is concerned. In some contexts, non-crop habitat increases pest densities. Agro-ecological information about a local farming context is needed before habitat conservation can be recommended as a pest-suppression strategy.
Work will be on an experimental array of grape and mango farms in Pernambuco and Bahia, Brazil, within an established partnership of researchers, suppliers and farmers associated with the BBSRC-Newton funded project Sustainable Fruit farming In the CAatinga: managing ecosystem service trade-offs as agriculture intensifies (SUFICA).
The scientific questions are:
1) How does the area and arrangement of natural habitat influence the communities of natural enemies and pests in fruit-growing areas?
2) Is there an effect of distance to natural habitat on the pest regulation service in the caatinga fruit farms, as has been shown in other systems?
3) What is the economic value of natural pest regulation in the SUFICA farms, in terms of crop yield and quality outcomes?
The focus will be on one or two groups of parasitoids or predators of pests (arthropods, birds or bats), depending on their interest.


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