Cover Crops Can Be More Effective than Insecticides for Managing Pests

A study led by Penn State researchers showed that cover crops can be more effective at reducing pest density and crop damage than insecticide applications. The research indicated that using biological controls such as encouraging pests’ natural enemies through cover crop planting and not using broad-spectrum insecticides was the most effective pest management strategy. “We hypothesized that the increased early-season vegetative cover provided by winter- or spring-sown cover crops would benefit predator populations and increase their biological control potential,” explained study lead author Elizabeth Rowen. The researchers found that where broad-spectrum insecticides were used, beneficial insect populations were decreased, yields decreased, and effects persisted more than a year after application.