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In the recent years, interest in the use of trap crop in farms and gardens has increased along with the rising attention in organic gardening. The reason behind is the mounting awareness and concern in the potential harm of pesticides to humans and animal life including the environment.
Trap cropping is a technique of using decoy plants in luring pest away from the main crops you are growing. Once the decoy plants are infested, they are then treated or destroyed to eradicate the pest.
Trap cropping is ideal for farm use where planting is widespread, but can be reduced to scale to meet the requirement of smaller farm or garden. There are two ways of using Trap crops. First is by planting several decoy plants of the same species completely surrounding the main crop. This is called perimeter trap cropping. In this way, pest attacks coming from all sides of the field are averted.
Second is by planting the decoy plants in alternating rows within the main crop. These decoy crops, also known as a sacrificial crop, protect the valuable main crop and serves as the food plant for the destructive insects. Once these insects have settled well, the decoy plants are then treated with organic pesticides or mechanically removed.
There are several benefits in using trap crop for pest control. Seed price of trap crops is low, will cause a significant reduction in the use of harmful pesticides, preserves the balance of biodiversity, have a better crop production, conserve the soil and the environment.
To be successful with trap cropping, you need to plan a layout of your farm or garden to guide you on how your decoy crops will be planted. You must study the specific pest in your area in order to learn its food preference. Pick the right decoy crop. Do regular monitoring. And respond quickly in ridding the pest found in the decoy crops. Remember that with trap cropping, timing is important. You have to make sure that everything is in place once the invasion of insect starts which always happens at a specific time of year.
Here are some trap crops you can use on your home gardening. Mustards attracts harlequin bugs. Radishes attract cabbage maggots, flea beetle and harlequin bugs. Dill attracts tomato hornworms. Cucumber beetle loves amaranth. Sunflowers are haven for stink bugs. Japanese beetles go for zinnias. Tomato aphids like okra. And squash bugs prefer millet. Other plants can be used to repel insects. Marigold repels both cabbage moth and nematodes, basil repels tomato hornworms, and tomato deters asparagus beetle. To balance it off, you also need to attract beneficial insects by planting flowers.
Trap cropping will not totally eliminate destructive pest, but will definitely help in reducing the use of pesticides which should be our main objective.
Have fun planting!