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Evaluation of Mulch Types on the Distribution and Diversity of Insect Pollinators and Pests in Tomato (Solanum Lycopersicum)
Insect pollinators play an important role in most agricultural ecosystems, where many species of plants and animals would not survive if they were missing. Insect bees, butterflies, moths, flies, beetles, wasps and thrips maintain the ecosystem biodiversity through pollination of flowering plants. Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) is a pollinator dependent plant with brightly coloured and scented flowers evolved to attract insect pollinators. Tomato production heavily involves the use of synthetic pesticides with detrimental impact on insect pollinators. This study employs mulching technologies to mitigate this problem. Four mulch treatments of white transparent polyethylene, maize stalks, grass clippings, guava leaves and no mulch as control, with three popularly cultivated tomato varieties, were arranged in a completely randomized block design (CRBD), replicated three times in the experimental plots at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (00 171N, 340 451E). The field experiment was conducted under rain fed conditions during the short rains and long rains season of 2016-2017. Distribution data obtained was analysed using SAS software, version 9.3 at p<0.05 confidence level. The means were separated by least significance difference (LSD). Mean incidence of insect pollinators was significantly highest in mulched (77.86%) and lowest in control plots Lukenya University Multidisciplinary Journal (LUMJ), Vol.1, August 25, 2021, ISSN 2663-3183 | 155 (22.14%) while pest mean incidence, was significantly highest in control (67.99%) than mulched plots (32.01%). Integrated use of mulches promotes distribution of insect pollinator diversity pollinating tomato crops. This technology selectively deters landing of some virus disease causing pests/vectors, hence significantly reduces synthetic pesticide and herbicide application, thereby conserving biodiversity.
Keywords: Insect Pollinators; Mulching; Pests; Solanum lycopersicum.
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