Diverse border crops and neighboring crops aid urban agriculture (eLIFE)

As more people move to cities, urban agriculture will make larger contributions to food security. There has been little investigation on the role of plant biodiversity in urban agricultural systems. Wan and colleagues use monitoring data collected from community farms in Shanghai, China, to investigate the role of border and neighboring crops on rice production. Border crops (soybeans) and neighboring crops (maize, eggplant and Chinese cabbage) increased the abundance of invertebrate predators, which decreased pest abundance. This caused a decrease in insecticide use as well. There was an overall increase in rice grain yield and economic profits. Randomized experiments of low and high plant diversity practices confirmed the monitoring data results. Diversifying urban agriculture through the use of diverse broader and neighboring crops helps to decrease pests and increase yields. (Summary by Julia Miller) eLIFE 10.7554/eLife.35103