Coming Full Circle: Using Nature to Combat Pests
The use of pesticides is a regular occurrence in the farming and agriculture industry. Chemicals are routinely applied to crops to prevent them from being attacked and eaten by insects.
But while they are effective in controlling insects, some of these chemicals can also be problematic for ecosystems and the planet in general.
Fortunately, science is continually seeking new and better methods. And sometimes what is old can be new again, as in the case of a UK trial now underway by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH). Here’s the gist:
- Bright rows of colorful wildflowers six meters (19 feet) wide, including red clover, oxeye daily, wild carrot and common knapweed, have been planted in the middle of crops on 15 large farms in England.
- The flowers support the natural predators of the pests that would normally be killed by chemicals.
- The strips are 100 meters (about 109 yards) apart, so that the predators of aphids and other pests have access to them throughout each field.
- At harvest-time, harvesting machines guided by GPS are programmed to avoid the wildflower strips, enabling them to be left intact year-round as refuges for the predators.
While this method may not permanently remove the need for pesticides, the hope is that these natural predators—and the wildflowers that support them—can reduce it. “That would be the ideal,” said CEH Professor Richard Pywell, “That you never need to spray.”
- Stripes of wildflowers across farm fields could cut pesticide spraying | Environment | The Guardian
- Monarch Butterflies Considered for Endangered Species List | Norwex Movement