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Farmscaping to Enhance Biological Control

Farmscaping to Enhance Biological Control

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10/22/2012

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F
ARMSCAPING
TO
E
NHANCE
B
IOLOGICAL
C
ONTROL
 ATTRA is the national sustainable agriculture information center funded by the USDA’s Rural Business—Cooperative Service.
 
www.attra.org 
 ATTRA is a project of the National Center for Appropriate Technology
by Rex Dufour 
NCAT Agriculture SpecialistDecember 2000
Abstract:
 
This publicationcontains information aboutincreasing and managingbiodiversity on a farm to favor beneficial organisms, withemphasis on beneficial insects.The types of information farmscapers need to consider isoutlined and emphasized. Appendices have informationabout various types and examplesof successful “farmscaping”(manipulations of the agriculturalecosystem), plants that attractbeneficials, pests and their  predators, seed blends to attractbeneficial insects, examples of  farmscaping, hedgerowestablishment and maintenancebudgets, and a sample flowering period table.
Hedgerow of insectary plants at Fong Farms Ltd.in Woodland, CA.
Introduction..............................................2Farmscape Planning.................................2Other Considerations..............................4
Weather.....................................................4Perennial vs. Annual.................................4Healthy Soil Ecology................................5Insectary Plant Characteristics............5Mulches & Trap Crops............................7
Farmscaping for Birds and Bats.............7
Bat Housing..............................................8
A Recap: Steps to Farmscaping..............9Federal Cost Share Programs................9References...............................................13Useful Contacts......................................14Additional Reading.................................16
 Appendix A
:Plants that Attract Beneficials
 Appendix B:
Pests and Associated BeneficialInsects
 Appendix C:
Seed Blends, Plants and Sprays toAttract Beneficial Insects
 Appendix D:
Examples of Farmscaping
 Appendix E:
Hedgerow Installation andMaintenance Cost Estimates
 Appendix F:
Sample Flowering Period Chart
 Appendix G:
Farmscaping Practices Defined
C
ONTENTS
EST 
 ANAGEMENT 
YSTEMS 
UIDE 
 
 
ATTRA
// Farmscaping to Enhance Biological ControlPage2
knowledge and management skill on the partof the grower than conventional pestmanagement. The investment in knowledgeand management may yield such benefits as:
A reduction in pesticide use
Savings in pesticide costs
Reduced risk of chemical residues on farmproducts
A safer farm environment and more on-farm wildlife.However, farmscaping is not a magical cure forpest problems. It is simply an ecologicalapproach to pest management that can be anintegral component of a biointensive integratedpest management (IPM) program.The use of farmscaping to increase beneficialorganism habitat must be understood andpracticed within the context of overall farmmanagement goals. For example, whenconsidering planting a perennial hedgerow theproducer should evaluate the various costs andbenefits likely to be associated with ahedgerow. Growers with farmscapingexperience will likely be the best source for thiskind of information.There are probably as many approaches tofarmscaping as there are farmers. Somegrowers, after observing a cover cropharboring beneficial insects, plant strips of it inor around their crop fields. The advantages ofthis kind of approach are:
It is simple to implement
It is often very effective
The farmer can modify the system afterobserving the results.Problems arise when the beneficial insecthabitat, unbeknownst to the grower, alsoharbors pest species. (For a more detaileddiscussion of this topic, visit:http://www.lib.uconn.edu/CANR/ces/ipm/
 ○ 
Farmscape Planning
 ○ 
 Beneficial insects should be viewed as mini-livestock. They will be healthier, reproduce morereadily, and be more effective biocontrols when provided habitat with an adequate and easilyavailable diet of nectar, pollen, and herbivorousinsects and mites.
 ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○
Introduction
“Farmscaping” is a whole-farm, ecologicalapproach to pest management. It can bedefined as the use of hedgerows, insectaryplants, cover crops, and water reservoirs toattract and support populations of beneficialorganisms such as insects, bats, and birds ofprey.In some respects, beneficial organisms shouldbe considered—and managed as—mini-livestock. The larger varieties oflivestockare healthier and reproduce morereadily when provided anadequate and nutritious diet.Likewise, “mini-livestock”require adequate supplies ofnectar, pollen, andherbivorous insects and mitesas food to sustain andincrease their populations.The best source of thesefoods is flowering plants.Flowering plants are particularly important toadults of the wasp and fly families, whichrequire nectar and pollen sources in order toreproduce the immature larval stages thatparasitize or prey on insect pests.However, using a
random
selection offlowering plants to increase the biodiversity ofa farm may favor pest populations overbeneficial organisms. It is important to identifythose plants, planting situations, andmanagement practices that best supportpopulations of
beneficial
organisms.Farmscaping, like other components ofsustainable agriculture, requires more
 
 
ATTRA
// Farmscaping to Enhance Biological ControlPage3
general/htms/cvercrop.htm). In otherinstances the beneficials may not exist innumbers sufficient to control pest populations
during the time when pest populations generally increase
. Predator/prey populationbalances are influenced by the
timing
ofavailability of nectar, pollen and alternateprey/hosts for the beneficials. Therefore, thereis a strong argument to be made for havingyear-round beneficial organism habitat andfood sources. The “beneficial habitat season”may be extended by adding plants that bloomsequentially throughout the growing season orthe whole year.When contemplating farmscaping,consideration should be given to the cost ofdeveloping beneficial habitat and maintenanceof the habitat as well as the cost of any landthat might be taken out of production. In anycase, a more systematic, research-orientedapproach to farmscaping can often help thegrower avoid mistakes and develop desirablehabitats that match the needs of the beneficialorganisms as well as the pest managementneeds of the farm.The following are key considerations incrafting a farmscaping plan:
1. Ecology of Pests and Beneficials
!
What are the most important(economic) pests that requiremanagement?
!
What are the most important predatorsand parasites of the pest?
!
What are the primary food sources,habitat, and other ecologicalrequirements of both pests andbeneficials? (Where does the pest infestthe field from, how is it attracted to thecrop, and how does it develop in thecrop? Where do the beneficials comefrom, how are they attracted to thecrop, and how do they develop in thecrop?)
2. Timing 
!
When do pest populations generallyfirst appear and when do thesepopulations become economicallydamaging?
!
When do the most important predatorsand parasites of the pest appear?
!
When do food sources (nectar, pollen,alternate hosts, and prey) for beneficialsfirst appear? How long do they last?
!
What native annuals and perennialscan provide habitat?
3. Identification of Strategies
!
Reduction of pest habitat (i.e., reduce/alter overwintering pest sites, orreduce/alter locations from which pestinvades.)
!
Augmentation of beneficial habitat(insectary establishment; consider bothperennial options—permanentplantings such as hedgerows—andannual options.)
!
Trap Crops—planted specifically to bemore attractive to the pest than is thecrop to be harvested. This is due to thetiming of the appearance of the trapcrop or the fact that it is physiologicallymore attractive to the insect. (Please seeappendices D and G for descriptions ofplanting systems that can be used infarmscaping.)
The ATTRA Phenology Resource List  provides additional resources about time-of-bloom at:
http://www.attra.org/attra-pub/phenology.html
 A sample blooming chart for California plants can be found in Appendix F.
When Do They Bloom?

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