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Trap cropping

Trap cropping is the planting of a trap crop to protect the main cash crop from a certain pest or several pests. The trap crop can be from the same or different family group, than that of the main crop, as long as it is more attractive to the pest. There are two types of planting the trap crops; perimeter trap cropping and row intercropping. Perimeter trap cropping (border trap cropping) is the planting of trap crop completely surrounding the main cash crop. It prevents a pest attack that comes from all sides of the field. It works best on pests that are found near the borderline of the farm. Row intercropping is the planting of the trap crop in alternating rows within the main crop.

Advantages of trap cropping

  1. Lessens the use of pesticide
  2. Lowers the pesticide cost
  3. Preserves the indigenous natural enemies
  4. Improves the crop's quality
  5. Helps conserve the soil and the environment

Table 1. Examples of trap cropping practices
Trap crop Main crop Method of planting Pest controlled
(Meyer, 2003)
Cotton Strip intercrop Lygus bug
Basil and marigold
(MMSU, 2003)
Garlic Border crops Thrips
Castor plant
(Hasse, 1986; 1987)
Cotton Border crop Heliotis sp.
(Ellis; Bradley, 1996)
Among plants Slugs
Chinese cabbage,
mustard, and radish
(Facknath, 1997; Muniappan; Lali, 1997)
Cabbage Planted in every 15 rows of cabbage Cabbage webworm
Flea hopper
Mustard aphid
Beans and other legumes Corn Row intercrop Leafhopper
Leaf beetles
Stalk borer
Fall armyworm
Chick pea
(Grundy; Short, 2003)
Cotton Block trap crop at
20 plants/ sq m (Brown, 2002)
Heliotis sp.
(Boucher; Durgy, 2003)
Cabbage Border crop Diamondback moth
(Hasse, 1986; 1987)
Cotton Row intercrop, planted in
every 20 rows of cotton
or every 10-15 m
Heliotis sp. 
(CIKS, 2000)
Cotton Row intercrop in every
5 rows of cotton
Heliotis sp. 
(ICIPE, 2003)
Row intercrop Stemborer
Dill and lovage
(Ellis; Bradley, 1996)
Tomato Row intercrop Tomato hornworm
Green beans
(Ellis; Bradley, 1996)
Soybean Row intercrop Mexican bean beetle
Horse radish
(DA, Philippines, 1997)
Potato Intercrop Colorado potato beetle
Hot cherry pepper
(Boucher; Durgy, 2003)
Bell pepper Border crop Pepper maggot
Indian mustard
(Cornell University, 1995)
Cabbage Strip intercrop in
between cabbage plots
Cabbage head caterpillar
(French and African marigold)
(Vann; Kirkpatrick; Cartwright, 2004)
(Dofour; Guerena; Earles, 2003)
Row/strip intercrop
Medic, Medicago litoralis
(Miles, C.; et al., 1996)
Carrot Strip intercrop in between
carrot plots
Carrot root fly
Napier grass
(ICIPE, 2003)
Corn Intercrop
Border crop
(Ellis; Bradley, 1996)
Cabbage Row intercrop Aphids
Flea beetle
Cucumber beetle
Squash vine borer
(Hasse, 1986; 1987)
Cotton Border crop Flower cotton weevil
Onion and garlic Carrot Border crops or barrier
crops in between plots
Carrot root fly
(Ellis; Bradley, 1996)
Cabbage family Row intercrop Flea beetle
Root maggot
(OIKOS, 2003)
Soybean Row intercrop Corn seedling maggot
(Naito, 2001)
Soybean Row intercrop at a distance
of 15 m apart
Stink bug
Sickle pod
(OIKOS, 2003)
Soybean Strip intercrop Velvet bean caterpillar
Green stink bug
Soybean Corn Row intercrop Heliotis sp.  
Sudan grass
(ICIPE, 2003)
Corn Intercrop
Border crop
(CIKS, 2000)
Cotton Row intercrop in every
5 rows of cotton
Heliotis sp.  
(DA, Philippines, 1997)
Potato Intercrop Colorado potato beetle
(Hasse, 1986; 1987)
Cotton Row intercrop, planted in
every 20 rows of cotton
Heliotis sp.  
(Makumbi, 1996)
Cabbage Intercrop (Tomato is planted
2 weeks ahead at the plots' borders)
Diamondback moth
Vertiver grass
(van de Berg, Undated)
Corn Perimeter crop Corn stalk borer

Tips for successful trap cropping

  • Make a farm plan. This will guide you on where the trap crops are to be sown or planted.
  • Learn to know and identify the pests.
  • Select a trap crop that is more attractive to the pest than the main crop. Ask for assistance from your local agriculturist.
  • Monitor your plants regularly.
  • Immediately control the pests that are found in the trap crop. Prune or remove the trap crops once the pest population is high, otherwise they will serve as the breeding ground and the pests will attack the rest of your farm.
  • Be ready to sacrifice your trap crop as an early crop and destroy them once pest infestation is high.
  • Always keep farm records.

  • External links


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