PhD student

tel +32 81/ 62.21.73

fax +32 81/ 62.23.12



My research projects is aboutIncreasing plant diversity at the field scale for enhancing conservation biological control: examples of wildflower strips and intercropping.”


The use of insecticides in agriculture is facing its limits. The development of insect resistance reducing their efficiency and their negative effects on health and the environment ask to search for alternatives. Among other practices, biological control consists of using natural enemies to reduce damages caused by pests to an acceptable level (Debach, 1991). Conservation biological control especially aims at supporting the natural enemies already present in the agricultural landscape by creating appropriate habitats (Debach, 1991).

Various landscape infrastructures, serving as habitats for insects, exist. For instance, wildflower strips sown at field margins are known to support a diversity of insects (Haaland et al., 2011) including natural enemies that may help to biologically control of pests in the adjacent crops (Balzan & Moonen, 2014). But it is not systematic (Pfiffner et al., 2009). Therefore our research aims at better understanding the insect-plant interactions by studying the effect of flower functional traits on insects.

Intercropping is also a promising practice to reduce pest abundance while favoring their natural enemies (Root, 1973). Although intercropping is often considered as a traditional farming practice, its adoption by farmers is low in Western Europe. In this context, research is still needed to test the efficiency of different associations of crops to biologically control pests.

The study of these practices is confronted to the everyday reality of the farmers who adopt more or less diversified farming practices and wildflower strips. Semi-structured interviews were realized.


Balzan M.V. & Moonen A.-C., 2014. Field margin vegetation enhances biological control and crop damage suppression from multiple pests in organic tomato fields. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata, 150(1), p.45‑65.

Debach P., 1991. Biological control by natural enemies 2e éd., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Haaland C., Naisbit R.E. & Bersier L.-F., 2011. Sown wildflower strips for insect conservation: a review. Insect Conservation and Diversity, 4(1), p.60‑80.

Pfiffner L. et al., 2009. Impact of wildflower strips on biological control of cabbage lepidopterans. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 129(1–3), p.310‑314.

Root R.B., 1973. Organization of a Plant-Arthropod Association in Simple and Diverse Habitats: The Fauna of Collards (Brassica Oleracea). Ecological Monographs, 43(1), p.95‑124.