To avoid a detrimental competition for moisture and nutrients, a weed free strip should be maintained in the rows of cane and bush fruit crops by mulching the soil surface or by mechanical cultivation.

In strawberry crops, mulching the soil with straw and/or plastic is recommended to reduce fruit contamination, weed competition and infection by fungal diseases. Mulch type and its sanitary quality should be carefully selected since it could favour certain pest. Also humidity should be considered as it can benefit the presence of soil predators, acting against thrips, by maintaining an adequate microclimate or, alternatively, an excess could favour the activity of Drosophila suzukii).

For elderberry production, it is recommended that, where possible, ground cover is allowed to develop in the weed free strip at times of year (e.g. the winter) when soil moisture is adequate.

Alleyways should be of grass and/or herbs and of adequate width to easily accommodate tractor wheels and allowing easy access to collect fruits on the ground to avoid D. suzukii. Non-competitive grass/herb mixtures (including leguminous e.g. miniclover) are recommended. Graminaceous species supply pollen to phytoseiid mites and some aphid species providing “banker” aphids such as Rhopalosiphum spp. to attract and maintain natural enemies.

The use of leguminous crops (Leguminosae/Fabaceae) as cover crops to improve soil structure, weed control and soil fertility is recommended. Leguminous crops fix N from the air and can contribute thus to soil N.

The use of selective broad-leaf weed herbicides in the alleyways should be avoided.

Where possible, buffer zones immediately adjacent to soft fruit plantations should be partially mowed to avoid migration of phytophagous insects (e.g. thrips, leafhoppers and Lygus) to crops.

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