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Organic Agriculture

, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 223–232 | Cite as

Postharvest grazing of hogs in organic fruit orchards for weed, fruit, and insect pest management

  • Krista A. BuehrerEmail author
  • Matthew J. Grieshop
Article
  • 308 Downloads

Abstract

In many perennial fruit systems, unharvested fruit left on the orchard floor can exacerbate insect pest problems by harboring insect pest larvae. Apple, cherry, and pear growers in the northeastern USA must control a number of challenging insect pests, including plum curculio Conotrachelus nenuphar (Herbst), codling moth (Cydia pomonella (L.)), and oriental fruit moth Grapholita molesta (Busck). Integrating livestock into tree fruit systems for the purpose of consuming leftover fruit may provide insect and weed pest management services. We rotationally grazed pigs after harvest in certified organic apple, cherry, and pear orchards to determine the amount of fruit the hogs would consume from the orchard floor, the impact hogs would have on orchard ground cover, and what pest insects the hogs could potentially suppress by consuming leftover fruit. The pigs consumed 100 % of leftover fruit in all three orchard types. Pigs significantly increased the amount of bare ground and decreased the amount of grass in all three orchard types. Both codling moth and oriental fruit moth larvae were found to be present in leftover apples and pears collected from the ground, whereas no pest insects were found in leftover cherries. Plum curculio fruit damage was significantly lower in grazed cherry plots, and codling moth/oriental fruit moth fruit damage was significantly lower in grazed pear plots following the first year of the study. Fruit damage data could not be collected following the second year of the study due to total crop loss.

Keywords

Organic Pest management Pigs Apples Cherries Pears 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We would like to thank Dr. David Epstein and Jim Koan for developing the concept of integrated hog and orchard production in Michigan. We would like to thank the growers Gene Garthe, Jess Piskor, and Abra Berens for their cooperation and all of the time and effort they dedicated to this project. We would like to thank Emily Pochubay, Philip Kouvariaris, and Kristy Morell for helping with fieldwork and data collection. We would also like to thank Emily Pochubay for her assistance with statistical analyses in R. We would like to thank Peter McGhee and Pete Nelson for their editorial assistance. We would like to thank the CERES Trust for the Organic Research Initiative Graduate Student Grants for project funding.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EntomologyMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

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