Wildflowers for agricultural pest control

Stripes of wildflowers across farm fields could cut pesticide spraying

The stripy fields have been planted across England as part of a trial to boost the natural predators of pests that attack cereal crops

"Long strips of bright wildflowers are being planted through crop fields to boost the natural predators of pests and potentially cut pesticide spraying.

"The strips were planted on 15 large arable farms in central and eastern England last autumn and will be monitored for five years, as part of a trial run by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH)."

I'm hoping to attend a talk on hedgerows this month and can report back if anyone's interested - though it might be in the context of California weather/climate/agriculture...

David Trammel's picture

Let us know what you find out. Thanks

So as expected, it was pretty locally-focused. My county is a major ag producer and so the focus of the hedgerow plantings is pretty heavily weighted toward minimizing ag losses and increasing benefits.

Apparently the trend is also weighted toward native plants. Oddly enough (because I'm a native/plant fan), I think this is possibly a shortcoming. At this point, we're talking about thousands of acres of decimated native habitat and while the natives deserve a chance, there are other plants that are adapted to our region that can benefit pollinators and birds, etc., and that might be put to good to create functioning micro-ecosystems. There's no way to re-create some sort of pristine-landscape-redux.

But that's me being a bit picky - heck, at least some folks are doing hedgerows at all.

The folks behind the "movement" in my area are https://www.hedgerowfarms.com if you're interested in a pretty regionally specific thing.

Madam Oh's picture

It is said to repel ants, and having tansy interspersed among my artichokes and cardoons appears to discourage ants enough that aphid predators can come in and keep them from increasing overwhelmingly. The ants would otherwise attack the predators. It doesn't eliminate ants, and I noticed one smaller ant species actually sticking aphids on a tansy, but not masses of aphids. The honeydew probably does not taste good.

A long-time trick employed by Japanese farmers against tunneling voles is to plant certain poisonous varieties of lilies around the edges of fields. I haven't been able to get enough of them to grow to be of much use, though.

I've tried planting peppermint among the peanuts to try to discourage rodents, but it hasn't helped much.

Thanks, Sophie – I have found wildflowers harbor good insects and help my garden over all, besides being very pretty. I think they are trying something similar in Oregon, in some fields, and I really hope it catches on.