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Modelling coupled peach tree-aphid population dynamics and their control by winter pruning and nitrogen fertilization

Grechi I., Hilgert N., Sauphanor B., Senoussi R., Lescourret F.. 2010. Ecological Modelling, 221 (19) : p. 2363-2373.

DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2010.06.015

Nitrogen fertilization and winter pruning are commonly used to control crop production in peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] orchards. They are also known to affect the dynamics of Myzus persicae (Sulzer) (Homoptera: Aphididae) aphid populations via bottom-up regulation processes. Interactions between crops and pests can cause complex system behaviour in response to management practices. An integrated approach will therefore improve the understanding of the effects of these two cultural practices on aphid and peach performances. We developed a simulation model that describes the cultural control of interacting peach tree and aphid population dynamics. It uses the principles of common trophic models while gathering available knowledge and explicit assumptions on peach and aphid functioning and the effects of cultural practices. The model was able to qualitatively reproduce the system behaviour observed in the field. It accounted for actions and feedback such as stimulation of foliar growth by winter pruning, consecutive aphid population increase, subsequent damage to foliage, and partial compensatory growth of foliage. The model also reproduced low losses in fruit production due to aphid infestations. However, it called for further integration of 'long-term' effects. Analysis of the model showed the complexity of peach tree and aphid responses to leaf N×winter pruning interactions. Simulations indicated that fruit production losses remained low within a range of realistic values of leaf N and pruning intensity, whereas manipulating peach and aphid dynamics, their interactions and their relationships to practices could result in higher losses. The model is useful to evaluate the relevance of cultural practices for a bottom-up regulation of aphid dynamics in crop-pest management. After considering other control methods and fruit quality, it can be used to find a combination of practices that optimises trade-offs between fruit production and environmental conservation goals. A modelling approach that links crop growth and pest population dynamics and integrates management practice effects has strong potential for improving crop-pest management in an integrated crop production context.

Mots-clés : prunus persica; myzus persicae; provence-alpes-côte d'azur; france

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