Farmscaping — a recently coined term that applies to an integrated, whole-farm approach to biological control of pests — involves laying out the farm to include hedgerows, insectary plantings , cover crops, water, and other features to attract and sustain beneficial organisms. Beneficials, including myriad insects, bats, birds, arthropods, and microorganisms, can be powerful allies in a sustainable farm system. They can reduce pests to tolerable levels without the use of pesticides, which in turn improves farm worker health and the safety of farm products, along with the sustainability of an operation. Biological control requires more knowledge and management than conventional pest control. To be most effective, the grower must learn the life cycles of pests, the types of beneficials that control those pests, and the kinds of plantings that harbor the desired beneficials. There is also the risk of harboring pest insects if farmscaping efforts are inconsistent or poorly planned.

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It can be of the grower than conventional pestdefined as the use of hedgerows, insectary management. The larger varieties of livestock farm wildlife. They will be healthier, reproduce morenectar, pollen, and readily, and be more effective biocontrols whenherbivorous insects and mites provided habitat with an adequate and easilyas food to sustain and available diet of nectar, pollen, and herbivorousincrease their populations.

The best source of thesefoods is flowering plants. However, farmscaping is not a magical cure forFlowering plants are particularly important to pest problems.

It is simply an ecologicaladults of the wasp and fly families, which approach to pest management that can be anrequire nectar and pollen sources in order to integral component of a biointensive integratedreproduce the immature larval stages that pest management IPM program. The use of farmscaping to increase beneficialHowever, using a random selection of organism habitat must be understood andflowering plants to increase the biodiversity of practiced within the context of overall farma farm may favor pest populations over management goals.

For example, whenbeneficial organisms. It is important to identify considering planting a perennial hedgerow thethose plants, planting situations, and producer should evaluate the various costs andmanagement practices that best support benefits likely to be associated with apopulations of beneficial organisms. Growers with farmscaping experience will likely be the best source for thisFarmscaping, like other components of kind of information.

Some observing the results. The advantages of habitat, unbeknownst to the grower, alsothis kind of approach are: harbors pest species. In other! What are the primary food sources,instances the beneficials may not exist in habitat, and other ecologicalnumbers sufficient to control pest populations requirements of both pests andduring the time when pest populations beneficials?

Where does the pest infestgenerally increase. Therefore, there from, how are they attracted to theis a strong argument to be made for having crop, and how do they develop in theyear-round beneficial organism habitat and crop? Timingsequentially throughout the growing season orthe whole year. When do pest populations generally first appear and when do these populations become economically When Do They Bloom?

When do the most important predators provides additional resources about and parasites of the pest appear? How long do they last? A sample blooming chart for California plants can be found in Appendix F. What native annuals and perennials can provide habitat? When contemplating farmscaping, 3. Identification of Strategiesconsideration should be given to the cost ofdeveloping beneficial habitat and maintenance! Reduction of pest habitat i. Augmentation of beneficial habitathabitats that match the needs of the beneficial insectary establishment; consider bothorganisms as well as the pest management perennial options—permanentneeds of the farm.

The following are key considerations incrafting a farmscaping plan:! Trap Crops—planted specifically to be more attractive to the pest than is the1. Ecology of Pests and Beneficials crop to be harvested. This is due to the timing of the appearance of the trap! What are the most important crop or the fact that it is physiologically economic pests that require more attractive to the insect.

Please see management? What are the most important predators farmscaping. Insectary Establishment Resources! Seed and plant sources For information about crop! Cost of ground preparation, planting pests, their parasites and and maintenance irrigation, predators, and the ecological weeding, etc.

Annual plant nutrition without negatively impacting the crop and thereby reduceThe type of cropping system, perennial vs. In all instances, this environmental conditions of a particular farmfarmscaping technique resulted in significant and crop. As a first step, the producer should chooseAnnual cropping systems are much less stable plants that provide good habitat for the desiredthan perennial ones.

Depending on the amount predators or parasites, and at the same time,of tillage involved, the ecology of annual do not harbor insects that are likely to becomesystems, both above and below ground, is pests.

For example, subterranean cloverdramatically altered every year. To help anchor harbors many beneficials like big-eyed bugs,the ecology of an annual system, consider and also harbors relatively few Lygus species. Avoid aggressive, invasive plants andhedgerows in or along an annual crop field. See box onThe idea of undisturbed beneficial habitat page 9 for more information about invasivedistributed at intervals in or around crop fields plants.

Herbaceous plants that are goodcolonized in the spring. Springtime environments of annual Lamiaceae families. Refer to appendices A,cropping systems are characterized by B, and C for detailed information on pests,extremes of temperature, sunlight and beneficials, and seed blends for plants thathumidity—conditions in which colonization attract beneficials. For details on how some In many instances, floral structure is anfarmers including Kenny Haines incorporate important consideration.

Plants that possess extrafloralMany organisms, including pest insects nectaries nectar sources outside the flower ,associated with both perennial and annual such as faba beans, cowpeas, vetch, andcrops, spend part of their life cycle in the soil. Microplitis croceipes, a parasitoid of the corn A study in California 8 revealed that beneficials inearworm in cotton 7.

Important findings fact do feed on nectar and pollen provided byincluded: insectary plants, and will move up to feet into adjacent crop lands. Another way of looking at this is Extrafloral or floral nectaries, on the other that an insectary crop should grow and bloom at a hand, are always found at the same time that best meets the needs of beneficials for location on a particular plant, making it pollen, nectar, or alternate hosts.

Strategies to easier for beneficials to locate this food prolong bloom include planting cover crops in source. It high predictability of the food location. This makes sense, because California lilac Ceanothus spp. As a consequence, Toyon Heteromeles arbutifoliaparasitoids will disperse from target areas in Golden sticky monkeyflow Mimulus guttatus er Elderberry Sambucus mexicanasearch for food. Catherines lace Eriogonum giganteumfood locations also harbor hosts 7. Because Coyote bush Baccharis pilularisnectar sources are so important to manybeneficials, non-invasive plants with floral orextrafloral nectaries might be considered prime Source: Kimball and Lamb, See p.

Much of the benefitbloom period of the cover crop. In these lies in the fact that mulches provideinstances, mowing the cover crops in alternate overwintering habitat for these organisms in astrips may facilitate their movement while the moderated microclimate 9. Sickle-bar mowers are Trap Cropsless disruptive to beneficials than flail mowersand rotary mowers.

A related strategy in farmscaping is the selection of plants that attract pests.


Farmscaping to Enhance Biological Control

Farmscaping is a whole-farm, ecological approach to increase and manage biodiversity with the goal of increasing the presence of beneficial organisms. Many pest populations can be managed by enhancing the efficacy and local abundance of the existing community of natural enemies through modification of the environment, a concept that has been termed "conservation biological control. Farmscaping methods include the use of insectary plants, hedgerows, cover crops, and water reservoirs to attract and support populations of beneficial organisms such as insects, spiders, amphibians, reptiles, bats, and birds that parasitize or prey upon insect pests. Insectary plants like mustards interplanted with market crops provide pollen and nectar to attract and maintain beneficial insects in the crop landscape.


Farmscaping & Biological Control • An Overview


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