Farmscaping is an ecological tool used to help manage and improve biodiversity by introducing more beneficial organisms. It is possible to control lots of pests by increasing the presence of natural enemies by changing the environment, and this process is known as “conservation biological control.”
In the process of farmscaping, cover crops, water reservoirs, insectary plants, and hedgerows are used to attract beneficial
organisms like bats, amphibians, spiders, reptiles, birds, and insects that prey upon those insects that can harm your plants.
The Benefits of Farmscaping
Proper farmscape plantings restrain weeds, offers shelter and food to beneficial organisms, and they grow very close to the cash crops but do not demand too much of space, nutrients, water or light. Farmscaping, in other cases, may include more than just planting insectary plants. It includes trap crops or host plants which the pests find more attractive than the cash crops. They are thus planted close to the cash crops to trap any pests and thus reducing chances of any harm to the cash crops. Using some well-drawn farming design plans will further help the success of your farmscaping.
Even early research shows that if natural enemies are present around the plants then it is possible to control the growth of insect pests. In the process of farmscaping, useful organisms are known as “mini-livestock”. Any livestock producer will tell you that their animals enjoy a healthy growth and also reproduce well when they are provided a proper healthy diet. Similarly, even natural enemies need the right amount of pollen, plant-feeding insects, nectar, and other arthropods to be able to multiply.
The Chocolate Box Ecology Approach
Flowering plants fulfill a lot of food requirements of the natural enemies. However, if a farmscape with any random flowering plants is created then it may prove to be favorable to the pest populations instead of the beneficial organisms, and this approach is known as “Chocolate Box Ecology”.
Planting different types of flowering plants to improve biological control is known as “chocolate box ecology” because of the multi-color display. However, if you do not have enough idea about the pests, and the interaction among pests, plants, and natural enemies then this process will most likely fail. It has been confirmed by a recent research that not quantity but the quality of the farmscape plantings need to be given attention to.
While planning your farmscape you have to recognize certain planting situations, plants, and management practices that help support beneficial organisms. Though this needs management skills and lots of information collection, these efforts can offer a lot of benefits like –
More wildlife and habitat variety – a well-planned landscape improves the habitat for animal and plant species and betters ecological diversity.
Need for pest management method is reduced – as long as the natural enemies successfully grow there will not likely be the need for pesticides and thus you will save money.
Can be used anywhere – you can plant insectary plantings not only next to crop fields but also adjacent to roadways, in buffer zones, and on steep banks.
Prevents soil erosion – farmscapes can be placed in lines between fields, steep ditches, or in any other place and offer soil stability to the areas that easily gets eroded.
So, farmscaping is a natural and effective tool to control pests. Once you manage to control these pests your crops will grow in a perfectly healthy way, and thus you will not have to keep checking your crops now and then and will thus have nothing to ever worry about.