Year of Publication

2021

Degree Name

Master of Science in Forest and Natural Resource Sciences (MSFNRS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis

College

Agriculture, Food and Environment

Department

Forestry and Natural Resources

First Advisor

Dr. Matthew Springer

Abstract

The use of cover crops has been a wildly used method in rotational row crop production. Cover crops have minimized soil runoff and aided in maintaining nutrients in agricultural fields. Increased use of cover crops has seen a corresponding increase in the amount of damage done to soybeans by voles. Currently, there are no mitigation methods that successfully decrease vole populations in agricultural fields. The use of habitat manipulation as an integrated pest management solution has not been studied as a practical solution for vole population management. During 2019 and 2020, I tested the impacts of various cover crop termination timings as an integrated pest management solution for decreasing population of voles and small mammals in cover crop fields transitioning to soybean. I used a Pollock’s Robust Design Model and a generalized linear model to determine impacts of cover crop termination treatments and time covariates on Total Number of Individuals (TNI) in plots, survival rates, and emigration rates. Treatments consisted of removing cover crop 4 weeks, 2 weeks, and one day prior to planting soybeans. Overall, survival rates for small mammals ranged from 50%-90% and followed a similar decreasing trend after termination of cover crops. The analysis of TNI for small mammals and voles both showed that treatment impacted their numbers and followed the trend of decreasing or leveling of populations after cover crop termination. Overall, I found support for cover crop termination timing as an integrated pest management for small mammal population control technique however this may not be enough to drastically reduce vole damage to soybean plants at the locations of colonies. Investigating if this method combined with other mitigation methods like raptor perches may provide a more efficient solution for farmers seeking to manage voles and other small mammal populations.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

https://doi.org/10.13023/etd.2021.036

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