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Entomopathogenic fungi (EPF) are widespread in agricultural fields and help suppress crop pests. These natural enemies may be hindered by certain agronomic practices associated with conventional agriculture including the use of pesticides. We tested whether the abundance of EPF differed between organic and conventional fields, and whether specific cropping practices and soil properties were correlated with their abundance. In one year of the survey, soil from organic fields and accompanying margins had significantly more EPF than conventional fields and accompanying margins. Regression analysis revealed that the percentage of silt and the application of organic fertilizer were positively correlated with EPF abundance; but nitrogen concentration, tillage, conventional fields, and margins of conventional fields were negatively correlated with EPF abundance. A greenhouse experiment in which fungicides and herbicides were applied to the soil surface showed no significant effect on EPF. Though organic fields were perceived to be more suitable environments for EPF, abiotic factors and cropping practices such as tillage may have greater impacts on the abundance of EPF. Also, fungicides and herbicides may not be as toxic to soil-borne EPF as originally thought.
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Clifton, Eric H.; Jaronski, Stefan T.; Hodgson, Erin W.; and Gassmann, Aaron J., "Abundance of Soil-Borne Entomopathogenic Fungi in Organic and Conventional Fields in the Midwestern USA with an Emphasis on the Effect of Herbicides and Fungicides on Fungal Persistence" (2015). Entomology Publications. 338.