Farmscaping and biological control
By Lynn Byczynski
Farmscaping is a new term for an integrated, whole-farm approach to biological control of pests. It involves laying out the farm to include hedgerows, insectary plantings, cover crops, water, and other features to attract and sustain beneficial organisms.
Beneficials, including insects, bats, birds, 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.
Biological control requires more knowledge and management than conventional pest control. 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.
Biocontrol includes these strategies:
- Removing overwintering habitat or other sources of pests.
- Establishing insectary plantings, which can be perennial hedgerows and/or annual strips in the field.
- Releasing purchased beneficial insects when needed.
- Planting trap crops to lure pests away from cash crops.
- Scheduling crops to avoid high pest populations.
- Building nest boxes for birds and bats.
For more information, read the article "Farmscaping: Making Use of Nature’s Pest Management Services."
Several federal conservation programs may provide cost share for farmscaping programs. To learn more about planning and funding farmscaping, see the ATTRA publication, Farmscaping to Enhance Biological Control. Article costs $2.95 to download.
Lynn Byczynski is the editor of Growing for Market and the publisher of The Hoophouse Handbook.