Lepidopteran stem borers are the main pests of cereals in Ethiopia. In recent years, habitat management techniques, which aim at increasing plant biodiversity through mixed cropping, have gained increased attention in stem borer control. In the present study, the profitability of mixed cropping of maize with haricot beans at different ratios and the effect on infestation of maize by stem borers, yield and borer parasitism were studied in Melkassa and Mieso, Ethiopia, in a field experiment under natural infestation. In Melkassa, pest infestations were too low for the cropping system to affect pests, plant damage and yields significantly, whereas in Mieso, where the pest densities were high, intercropping of maize with beans at ratios of 1:1 to 2:1 significantly decreased borer densities compared with pure maize stands. Chilo partellus (Swinhoe) and Cotesia flavipes. (Cameron) were the major stem borer and parasitoid species, respectively, recorded both at Melkassa and Mieso. Borer parasitism was higher at Mieso than at Melkassa and tended to increase with the increase of the haricot bean ratio in the intercropping system. Land equivalent ratios of >1 indicated higher land use efficiency in mixed compared with sole cropping, even if pest densities were low.
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We would like to thank the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR) for providing the necessary facilities. The research work was funded by the Directorate General for International Cooperation, the Netherlands, through a grant on Biological Control of Cereal Stem Borers in Subsistence Agriculture in Africa. The technical support of Mr. Abebe Zewdu is duly acknowledged.
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Belay, D., Schulthess, F. & Omwega, C. The profitability of maize–haricot bean intercropping techniques to control maize stem borers under low pest densities in Ethiopia. Phytoparasitica 37, 43–50 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12600-008-0002-7