New Guide: How to Apply Ecological Principles with A Whole-Farm Approach to Managing PestsThu, 25 Feb 2021 08:17:08 CST
Pest problems might seem inevitable to most farmers, yet in natural landscapes pest outbreaks are uncommon. That's because pests thrive in farming systems that are highly disturbed, grow a small number of crops, and have low plant and insect diversity-it's like your farm is a buffet and there's no line to get in. But in natural environments pests generally can't get to an outbreak level because they have to compete with so many other species for limited resources. Thinking of pests as a sign of ecological imbalances on the farm rather than as a fact of life points the way to sustainable solutions that reduce pest pressures by strengthening natural relationships throughout the farm.
SARE's new bulletin, A Whole-Farm Approach to Managing Pests discusses ecological approaches to pest management and highlights cases in which farmers are using innovative methods to manage pests. These holistic strategies emphasize knowledge of cropping systems, biodiversity and farm resource management. Practices that produce healthy crops and keep insects, weeds and diseases away focus on:
· promoting biodiversity
· creating healthy crop habitat
· reducing disturbance to soil and non-crop vegetation
· minimizing off-farm inputs
Focusing on the farming system rather than on each individual pest can make pest control across the whole farm more effective and sustainable. Ecological pest management strategies can provide other benefits, such as improved soil health and biodiversity maintenance.
Managing pests with ecological strategies doesn’t mean giving up farming the way you know it. Ecological strategies can be adopted incrementally to supplement the unique pest management needs of your farm and provide benefits that go beyond pest management. Small adjustments like pushing back a planting date to avoid peak pest activity or including flowering species in hedgerows and conservation buffers can go a long way towards reducing your need for pesticides. Whether you work with row crops or specialty crops, there are ecological options you can use to rein in your pest problems.
This publication is available free in print (no shipping charges) and online.
Order, Download, or read online HERE now.
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