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Abstract, 2013, InTech

Companion planting has received less attention from researchers than other diversification schemes (such as insectary plants and cover crops), but this strategy is widely utilized by organic growers [8, 9]. Generally, recommendations on effective companion-target pairings come from popular press articles and gardening books, which make claims of the benefits of bringing together as companions aromatic herbs, certain flowers [12], or onions (Allium L. spp.) [13]; nearly always, vegetables are the protection target. However, these recommendations most-commonly reflect the gut-feeling experiences of particular farmers that these pairings are effective, rather than empirical data from replicated trials demonstrating that this hunch is correct. Indeed, more-rigorous examinations of companion-planting’s effectiveness have yielded decidedly mixed evidence [e.g. 9, 14 and 15]. Here, we first review companion plants that disrupt host-location by the target’s key pests, and then those that operate by attracting natural enemies of the protection target’s pests. For companions operating through either mechanism, we discuss case-studies where underlying mechanisms have been examined within replicated field trials, highlighting evidence for why each companion-planting scheme succeeded or failed.