Farmscaping to Enhance Biological Control PDF – Free download as PDF File . pdf), Text File .txt) or read online for free. Tag Archives: Farmscaping to Enhance Biological Control – IP On a big scale this is known as Farmscaping, and you can read about it in. Farmscaping to Enhance Biological Control. $ This publication contains information about increasing and managing biodiversity on a farm to favor.

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Farmscaping is a whole-farm, ecological approach to fnhance 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. Ideal farmscape plantings provide food and shelter for beneficial organisms, suppress weeds, and grow in close proximity to the cash crop without competing for space light, water and nutrients.

More on trap crops later…. Entomologist Patricia Glynn Tillman centertechnician Kristie Graham rightand student technician Brittany Giles evaluate a sorghum trap crop being used to control stink bugs in adjacent fields of peanuts and cotton. Farmscaping aims to prevent damaging levels of pests from developing in the crop ecosystem. Early research demonstrated that biological control of insect pests can be achieved if significant numbers of natural enemies are present at critical times during pest development.

Livestock producers will tell you that their animals are healthier and reproduce more readily when provided an adequate and nutritious diet. Likewise, natural enemies require adequate supplies of nectar, pollen and plant-feeding insects and other arthropods as food to sustain and increase their populations. Flowering plants provide many of the food resources natural enemies need. However, creating a farmscape of flowering plants picked at random may favor pest populations over beneficial organisms.

Simply adding attractive flowering plants to the farmscape without knowledge of the biology and behavior of key pest and natural enemy species will not result in effective biological control. Planting a diversity of flowering plants to enhance biological control has been referred to as “chocolate box ecology” because of the colorful floral display.

However, using this approach without knowledge of key pests and the interaction among plants, pests and natural enemies may lead to failure. Recent research has shown that the quality, not quantity, of the farmscape plantings is most important.

Researchers now commonly screen plant species and use a range of selection criteria to determine appropriate botanical composition. An excellent reference on the topic is Ecological Engineering for Pest Management: Advances in Habitat Manipulation for Arthropods In planning the farmscape it is important to identify specific plants, planting situations, and management practices that best support populations of beneficial organisms.

This requires some information-gathering and management skill on the part of the grower, but this investment can result in the following benefits:. Rather, it is an ecological approach or tool that can be combined with other pest management strategies as part of an integrated organic pest management program.

In this phased approach to on-farm pest management planning, farmscaping 2nd phase is integrated with other pest management strategies.

Priority is given to preventative pest management strategies like farmscaping, followed by more direct measures if preventative strategies are not sufficient. Annual Review of Entomology. There are many different approaches and strategies in farmscaping.


One common approach in farmscape planning is to first think about the intended crop, then the key pest s that are known to attack the crop, then determine the commonly occurring natural enemies of the pest sand identify appropriate food plants and harborage requisites. This section will familiarize you with key factors to consider in planning a farmscape for effective biological control, including:.

Farmscaping: Making Use of Nature’s Pest Management Services – eXtension

The most successful farmscape systems have been developed and fine-tuned by farmers to fit their individual circumstances. Before planning the farmscape, collect as much information as possible.

For each market crop to be grown, make a list of the most damaging pests that require management; then for each pest, try to answer the following questions:.

Assassin bugs are generalist predators; although they feed on both pest and beneficial insects they are generally considered to be beneficial. Once information is available on key pests and their natural enemies, the following strategies can be considered:. Follow this link to a sample budget for establishment and maintenance of beneficial insect habitat: Flowers or extra-floral nectaries provide nectar.

Nectar is a source of liquid sugar energy and vitamins for beneficials, and is critical for optimum performance. Research has shown that for a typical parasitic wasp, egg laying capacity can be 10 times greater for females given a high quality nectar diet compared with females given a poor quality diet. Extra-Floral Nectaries are nectar glands that are not associated with flowers. Parasitic and predatory insects use extrafloral nectaries as food sources and mating sites.

The supplemental nectar provided by extrafloral nectaries is important, especially during the early season or periods of drought when few plants are in bloom.

Peonies, sweet potato, bachelor button and lima bean are examples of plants with extrafloral nectaries located on various parts of the plant. Flowers that provide pollen. Pollen is a source of protein and protein is critical for egg laying. Many plants in the Umbelliferae family are good sources of pollen. Another good pollen producer is the corn plant.

Alternative hosts for beneficial insect prey. In some situations it is useful to establish plantings that will support prey populations that can provide food for natural enemies to sustain their initial establishment into the area. For example goldenrod and fennel can be planted to harbor aphids that serve as hosts for early-season predator species.

These plants have small, open flowers that are accessible to the tiny mouthparts of small, parasitic wasps. Fennel both the common and bronze varieties is not only attractive to small parasitic wasps but its flowers also attract syrphid flies, lacewings, mantids, lampyrids lightning bugs and ladybugs.

An easy way to add Umbeliferae to the farmscape is to buy carrots or parsnips at the market with the tops on and plant them in the farmscape. If planting as a market crop, let some plants go to seed and overwinter to provide an abundance of flowers next season. Wild parsnip left and Figure 7. Once the farmscape is in place, regular monitoring of plants will indicate whether a healthy population of beneficial insects has been established. Sampling of crop plants should be done at least weekly.

Insect sampling guidelines are available online. Consider the Area to be Farmscaped. The optimum area of the farm devoted to farmscaping depends upon the dispersion capabilities of the beneficials you want to attract see Table 1 below. For example, syrphid fly adults can travel over long distances, so food plants established in just one location could support syrphids that could travel over the entire farm.

To attract small parasitic wasps or ladybugs with a much more limited range, it is necessary to establish food plants in several areas of close proximity to the crop.


Remember also that farmscaping plants can add value beyond biological control. For example, fennel and colored yarrow varieties can be sold as cut flowers.

Farmscaping to Enhance Biological Control | Horticulture International

Flowering medicinal plants like echinacea, fever few, and boneset also have multiple uses. Weather variations from year to year may strongly influence whether a particular management practice is effective. Therefore, a flexible approach is needed to be able to adjust beneficial habitat according to weather conditions.

Observation and experience are the most valuable tools in this regard. This term is used because we are providing food and habitat for the top animals in the food chain, the predators and parasites. Intercropping, companion planting and trap cropping are three examples:. Intercropping is the practice of growing two or more crops usually different families in the same area.

Strip cropping is a derivation of intercropping and is the practice of growing two or more crops in alternating strips across a field. Both practices serve to increase biodiversity and make the habitat less suitable for pest development. Pests find it easier to locate host plants when grown in a monoculture versus a mixed planting. Interplantings of non-host crops may also act as a food source or habitat for beneficial organisms. More research is needed to understand the complex interactions among pests, natural enemies, and mixed crop habitats.

This is a broad topic that refers to the addition of specific plants to enhance the growth and quality of nearby crops. In a pest management context companion plants are usually added to deter or repel pests.

The African marigold, for example, releases thiopene—a nematode repellent—making it a good companion for a number of garden crops. A recent study on the effects of non-host companion plants on host finding by the cabbage root fly and onion fly demonstrated that companion plant odor had little or no effect, but that plant size, leaf area and color were the most important factors in disrupting host location.

Example of companion planting from left to right; lettuce, cabbage and sunflower. A trap crop is a crop that is planted to lure insect pests away from the cash crop.

The trap crop can be a different plant species, a different variety, or just a different growth stage of the same species, as long as it is more attractive to the pests when they are present.

Successful use of trap crops is challenging. Trap crops were originally designed to be used in conventional systems where insecticides could be used to kill the pests in the trap crop.

Farmscaping: Making Use of Nature’s Pest Management Services

In organic systems approved insecticides can be used, but pests can also be eliminated by crop destruction. The timing is critical — destruction too early or too late can negate the trap crop effects or even result in mass pest migration to the cash crop. Alfalfa planted as a trap crop in strawberries to control tarnished plant bug. Farmscaping to enhance biological control: Pest management systems guide [Online].

Ecological engineering for pest management: Arthropod pest management in organic crops. This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic’s articles on organic certification.

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This is where you can find research-based information from America’s land-grant universities enabled by eXtension. View publishing information about this page. Geoff Zehnder, Clemson University. Browse related by Tag organic productioneorganic.