I am certain everyone has something they love more than some other things.
Just like you would prefer an air-conditioned ride home on a hot summer afternoon, more than a hike through the alley.
Like you, pests and diseases have certain preferences over your usual garden crop.
You’d agree with me that It does not matter how close the alley is to your home, you only know that if you had a choice, you would certainly pick an air-conditioned ride home.
Talking about types of food and varying preferences; I’ve always loved eating peanuts and would prefer a good quantity of peanuts to those nauseating okras I am always made to eat before choir practice.
My music teacher says the okra is helpful for my voice and helps for vocal flexibility.
It is probably the reason why I have to take okras most of the time.
But, if I had the chance to choose and in the absence of my music teacher, I would pick peanuts over okras regardless of how badly it affects my voice.
I just can’t help myself in front of a good peanut bowl. It’s in the crunchy nature of the peanut coating and the amazing taste of the nuts just beneath the coating.
Call me a glutton, but I just can’t help myself going to get some more all the time. I bet, if you were me, you would do the same, or eat peanuts more than I do.
It isn’t just me, every human, plant, pests, and disease, have a type of food they prefer over another. Our systems, taste buds, and nutrient needs, are designed to always want this food type we love most.
We can be termed impulsive feeders when it comes to meals like this because we have developed so much love for it.
And sometimes, the love for this food becomes a tool used against us, to either get us to do something we probably shouldn’t do or to hurt us.
As a child, I remember running a series of errands without as much as a frown, because mum or anyone behind the errand always attached the prize of a peanut on successful delivery of the errand.
So, it didn’t matter what time of the day it was, you would always see me sprinting from one neighbourhood to another just to get an errand delivered in the name of a peanut promise.
This strategy when used to control pests and diseases in a garden is referred to as the use of trap crops as decoys for the control of insect pests and diseases.
There is no exact knowledge on where trap cropping as a means of controlling pests and diseases originated from.
Scientists cannot say for sure that the use of trap crops is native to the Mediterranean axis or to the woodlands of Asia.
We only know that certain pests and diseases prefer to feed on some plant species while leaving the others unscathed, hence intelligent farmers who noticed this trend began to double-plant on a single soil.
By double planting, they led the insects away from necessary crops into the ones not needed.
This act always led to minute losses of the needed plant, because all of the pests and diseases that should be attacking the plants were too busy feeding on their preferred crop type.
What is a Decoy Crop?
A decoy crop, also called a trap crop are crops that draw agricultural insect pests and diseases away from crops that are planted close to them.
A Series of tests have shown that the use of trap crops is very effective in small gardens, nurseries, and greenhouse testing facilities. The effect of decoy cropping is not so pronounced on a commercial basis.
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The popular practice is to plant trap crops around the circumference of the garden to hold off any insect pests and diseases that might be relocating.
These trap plants are left for a while and then destroyed with the pests and diseases still in them. This act destroys both the pests and diseases in the plants as well as the plants.
It isn’t a waste of resources. It is rather the loss of one crop to benefit from another.
The use of trap crops as decoys to control insect pests and diseases can help keep your garden safe from pests and diseases that frequent gardens at specific seasons of the year.
This article is written with an aim to ensure a happier garden and a satisfied gardener. This is why I will be showing you how you can simply and creatively use trap crops as decoys to control pests and diseases.
Keep reading, for all of the details.
Using Decoy Crops to Control Pests and Diseases
There are two methods of using Decoy crops to target insect pests and diseases and prevent them from getting into our gardens and plantations. They are:
- Perimeter Cropping
These methods have the same aim, which is to ensure that pests and diseases that are meant to attack the useful or needed plants are distracted into attacking the decoy crops.
They both involve the use of sacrificial plants which get eaten up by pests and finally destroyed by the gardener.
Now let’s delve in, to fully understand how these systems work.
- Perimeter Cropping
This method is one of the methods listed in the insect pest management procedures as an effective system of managing pests and diseases in a garden.
As an insect pest management procedure and a method of decoy cropping, perimeter cropping is the act of surrounding the needed crops with a perimeter of other crops that are preferred more by insect pests and diseases.
For example, we know that striped cucumber beetles prefer the blue Hubbard plant to butternut squash.
The principle of perimeter cropping comes into play when the blue Hubbard crop is planted around the perimeter of a garden filled with butternut squash.
An infestation of the butternut garden would have all the beetles attacking and feeding on the blue Hubbard rather than the butternut squash.
After some time, the gardener is supposed to come to destroy the beetles from off the blue Hubbard plant on the garden perimeter, as a way of preventing pest spread to the butternut in the garden.
The method of removing the pests and diseases on perimeter decoy crops does not necessarily need to be checked, because the aim of the farmer is simply to eradicate the pests regardless of whether the crops die or thrive.
This method of perimeter cropping reduces the use of pesticides on the needed crops and ensures their longevity.
Various agricultural scientists and gardening experts are of the opinion that intercropping is an effective technique for managing and controlling pests and diseases on farmland.
This is because the components of the intercrop are a mixture of the plants, needed by the farmers and the plants which are loved by pests and diseases.
This means that pests and diseases are always going to stay on the crops they need rather than the other plants which they do not often prefer.
The principle of intercropping is better used to target insects, pests and diseases that fly through the perimeter into the garden.
The intercrops are there to ensure that even though these pests and diseases initially start-off on the plants the farmers find useful, they tend to relocate to the other decoy crops very quickly before they are even able to do harm to the plants.
Intercropping is best for smaller gardens and for plant pot pests and diseases. This is because your intercrops can be planted according to the number of plants you have.
Tips for Effective Use of Decoys to Control Pests and Diseases
You could be using decoys but not getting the best results. This is because there are certain tips you might have missed for the effectiveness of these decoys in the control of pests and diseases.
Consider these tips as an advantage I’m offering you, over the rest of the less than seven billion gardeners on the surface of the earth.
- The Early Riser Principle
- Keep an Eye on your plants
- Keep your decoys very attractive
- Give no room for evil to thrive
These tips are rib cracking right? It’s the point I try to emphasize in my articles to gardeners.
Gardening is fun and does not need to get you all worked up and stressed especially about insect pests and your crop yield.
You can make those pests and diseases leave your garden without being all worked up.
I’d show you how, as we dive into these funny decoy cropping tips.
1. The Early Riser Principle
The normal professional principle states that the early riser usually gets the best from the day right?
This exact principle can be relativized in trap cropping to keep pests and diseases away from needed plants.
This is done by planting decoy crops early enough before even planting the needed crops. This way, the pests and diseases see something to get their proboscis on, which distracts them from the original crops when they finally grow.
This strategy is smart and could help you eradicate existing pests and diseases in the garden location before your needed crops start to grow.
2. Keep an Eye on Your Plants
Your plants need to be watched closely to know what pests and diseases are pervasive at different points in time in the growth of the plants.
By keeping an eye on the plants, you also know when the time’s right to change the decoy crops or destroy them with the insects pests and diseases in them.
3. Keep Your Decoys Very Attractive
Don’t think that insects, pests and diseases will not move to other plants simply because they have a preference for a certain type of plant.
As a human being, l have this act of not eating peanuts when they get exposed to air and lose their crunch.
It is the same way with insects, pests and diseases. They will have to move to your useful plants if the ones they love aren’t looking healthy and attractive. Therefore, ensure you keep the decoy plants healthy and attractive.
Apply water correctly, guard the plants from too much sunlight and fertilize as at when due.
4. Give no Room for Evil To Thrive
This is very necessary. As soon as you notice that the decoy crops have been well infested, the next step is to destroy the pests and diseases on it.
Destroy them using the most effective techniques you have within your arsenal, even though it affects the life of the decoy crops.
They are after all, decoys, sacrificial crops.
If you do not destroy the crops on time, chances are that they will feed well, mature and reproduce a colony that soon affects the other plants.
How Does Pheromone Trap Work
A pheromone trap is an insect trap that is inorganic and used for the trapping and killing of insects.
The pheromone trap is very sensitive to the presence of insects, pests and diseases in a garden. It attracts them at low densities, regardless of the distance of the pheromone to the pests.
The pheromone trap releases an insect sexually stimulating scent and the insects are drawn to the trap. In trying to mate, they fall into the trap and are destroyed.
You can purchase a pheromone trap or make one.
The use of decoy and trap crops on gardens to control pests and diseases subscribes to the principle of ecological development and improvement.
It does not involve the use of pesticides that harm the soil and alter soil pH level, so I highly recommend the use of this technique for the control of pests and diseases.
The method of decoy cropping you prefer to use depends on the size of your garden as well as what you feel will work best for you.
Trap crops and decoy crops in the long run, develop some resistance to Pests and diseases.