Farmscaping is a term used to describe farmland management practices that take an ecological approach to pest management. It is often found in blog posts and factsheets discussing sustainable agriculture and organic farming and today this organically-focused blog will join the ranks!
This post, inspired by the Extension article “Farmscaping: Making Use of Nature’s Pest Management Services” by Geoff Zehnder, kicks-off an exciting new venture — developing a garden at Wheeler Historic Farm utilizing farmscape techniques!
We are thrilled by the opportunity to share farmscape concepts with our clients, not only via this blog, but in a hands-on way. Our intent is to use this public garden to educate Salt Lake County residents on the benefits and techniques of the farmscape approach.
The Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas (ATTRA) website has very useful information on sustainable agriculture, organic pest management practices and farmscaping. ATTRA even published a pest management guide titled “Farmscaping to Enhance Biological Control.” This guide is a great resource and we’ve chosen to share some of the information in it with our readers below. To access the full guide online, visit Oregon State University Extension.
Farmscaping means planning and planting for beneficial insect habitat with the “use of insectary plants, hedgerows, cover crops and water reservoirs to attract and support populations of beneficial organisms such as insects, bats, and birds of prey.” These practices will be highlighted in our new garden project, so we thought we would define them below.
- Insectary Plants – plants intentionally grown to attract beneficial insects and organisms to biologically control pests while providing pollen and nectar sources for pollinators.
- Cover crops – low-growing nonharvested plants used to help manage soil fertility, erosion and tilth, suppress weeds, and otherwise enhance production of the intended market crop.
- Hedgerow – a linear row or barrier made up of trees, shrubs, perennial forbs and grasses planted to enclose or separate fields for the purpose of reducing windspeed, creating microclimates favorable to beneficial organisms, reducing wind erosion of soil, decreasing the dessicating effect of winds on crops, and providing wildlife habitat.
- Intercropping – the practice of growing two or more crops in the same, alternate, or paired rows in the same area. This technique is particularly appropriate in vegetable production. The advantage of intercropping is that the increased diversity helps “disguise” crops from insect pests.
- Beetle Banks – Permanent strips planted with bunch grasses or other low-growing perennials to provide shelter for predatory, ground-dwelling invertebrates.
- Trap Crops – crops planted with the specific purpose of being more attractive to pest insects than the intended market crop. This technique can be used as a means of avoiding the use of pesticides.
For even more organic farming definitions visit Lexicon of Food (lexiconoffood.com)- a website we shared in last week’s blog post. Lexicon believes that “words are the building blocks for new ideas” and they operate their platform to “help change the way we look at food.” They believe change happens when we start from the same place, including a mutual understanding of the terms we use. They link to some fantastic articles and videos too, so go check them out!
We hope you continue to follow our farmscape journey either here, at The Organic Forecast, or in person at our new garden. See you on the farm!
Additional Web Resources
- UC Davis Factsheet
- Improving Pest Management with Farmscaping –Virginia Cooperative Extension
- Farmscaping for Pest Management and Pollination – University of Arizona Extension
- Insectary Plants – University of California Ag & Natural Resources (UCANR)
Other Web Resources
- Organic Farming Practices – Xerces Society
- Cover Cropping for Pollinators and Beneficial Insects – SARE
- Farming for Pest Management Brochure– Xerces Society
- Pollinator Habitat Installation Guides – Xerces Society