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Does Cover Crop Management Affect Arthropods in the Subsequent Corn and Soybean Crops in the United States? A Systematic Review

Cover crops (CC) support populations of pest and beneficial arthropods. The status of these arthropods in the subsequent cash crop depends on several factors such as CC species, management, biomass production, and weather conditions. A systematic review was performed to identify how CC management influences pest and beneficial arthropods and to identify knowledge gaps for the future research efforts. Eight studies included in this review indicated that CC increase beneficial arthropods or some beneficial arthropods compared with the CC managed fields. A minority of the studies indicated an increase in pest presence when using CC. Cover crop species, termination time and methods, and CC management had variable responses on arthropod activity-density. The variable responses, differences on study designs, and complexity of CC management influence arthropod activity in a CC-corn [Zea mays L. (Poaceae)]/soybean [Glycine max L. (Fabaceae)] system, limiting our ability to draw a broad and effective conclusion about the CC management impact on arthropods. Local research studies are needed to identify the impact of CC biomass quality and quantity, CC biomass thresholds for pest and beneficial arthropods, and cash crop yield impact of CC management-arthropod-related studies. Studies using the standard farming practices of each U.S. region and using standard measurements are needed to guide farmers that use cover crops. This systematic review aims to provide a better understanding of how the complexity of management in cover crop-corn/soybean management affects arthropod activity-density and to identify potential gaps in research and address future research needs.

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