Agricultural intensification and climate change are expected to affect pest performance through excessive inputs of chemical fertilizers and increased probability of extreme drought events. Potential interactive effects of fertilization and water availability on aboveground pest performance may depend on soil fertility because of its effect on nutrient availability. In a greenhouse experiment, we examined the effects of inorganic fertilization on the performance of the grain aphid (Sitobion avenae, F.), an important pest of wheat, under different conditions of soil fertility and water availability. We found soil fertility and water availability to influence the positive effects of inorganic fertilizers on aphid growth, i.e. fertilization promoted faster aphid development time and higher fecundity and biomass under low fertility and under well-watered conditions. Moreover, although increased soil fertility favored aphid growth under well-watered conditions, it simultaneously sustained plant development. The current practices promoting soil fertility do not have direct negative consequence on crop protection under conventional cropping systems.
- Agricultural intensification, Cereals, Climate change, Grain aphid, Nitrogen, Soil organic matter, Water availability