Soil-targeted interventions could alleviate locust and grasshopper pest pressure in West Africa

Mira L. Word, Sharon Hall, Brian E. Robinson, Balanding Manneh, Alioune Beye, Arianne Cease

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Agricultural land use has intended and unintended consequences for human livelihoods through feedbacks within coupled human and natural systems. In Senegal, West Africa, soils are a vital resource for livelihoods and food security in smallholder farming communities. In this study, we explored the connections among land use, soil conditions, plant nutrient content, and the abundance of several locust and grasshopper species. We worked in two rural farming villages in the Kaffrine region of Senegal. Oedaleus senegalensis was least abundant in groundnut areas where plant N was highest and abundance was negatively correlated with plant N across land use types. Overall, grasshoppers were most numerous in grazing and fallow areas. There was little variation in soil properties across land use types and soil organic matter (SOM) and inorganic soil N content were low throughout. SOM was positively correlated with soil inorganic N concentration, which in turn was positively correlated with plant N content. Of the management practices we surveyed, fallowing fields was important for soil N and SOM replenishment. These results corroborate other research indicating that land use, management practices, soil and plant nutrients, and insect herbivore abundance are mechanistically coupled. Although further research is needed, improving soil fertility could be used as an alternative to pesticides to keep locusts at bay and improve crop yields.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)632-643
Number of pages12
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - May 1 2019


  • Integrated pest management
  • Plant-insect interactions
  • Senegal
  • Social-ecological systems
  • Soil fertility
  • West Africa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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