- Author: Sacha Heath
- Author: Rachael Long
Across the globe, scientists have shown that birds can be farmer allies. Insectivorous birds feed on damaging insect pests in many crops including coffee, cacao, oil palm, corn, cabbage and apples. Raptors, including hawks and barn owls, feed on rodents, including gophers, voles and mice (see blog, Barn owls help clean up rodents naturally).
Despite this deep historic knowledge that birds are important predators of crop pests, over time the perception of birds as natural enemies of pests has been generally replaced with the idea that birds are often major crop pests themselves. Indeed, some bird species — like some types of insects...
- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
Hedgerows enhance wildlife abundance and diversity around farmland without contributing to food safety problems in field crops, according to a new study published by a team of University of California researchers. The UC Agriculture and Natural Resources and UC Davis study documented that field edge plantings around farms are generally too narrow relative to the surrounding landscape to be a source of rodents and foodborne pathogens.
“This study is particularly pertinent right now when FDA's Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is calling for farmers to co-manage wildlife and agriculture, instead of clear cutting wild habitat around their crops,” said co-author...
Research has shown that hedgerows of native California flowering shrubs planted along the edge of a crop field helps keep crop pests under control by increasing the activity of natural enemies.
UC Agriculture and Natural Resources and UC Berkeley researchers analyzing hedgerows in Yolo County have found that not only are farmers diversifying their land by planting hedgerows, but those hedgerows are attracting natural enemies that provide economic benefits.
The two-year study of hedgerows planted adjacent to processing tomatoes showed higher numbers of natural enemies such as lady beetles (aka lady bugs) and fewer crop pests compared with conventionally managed field crops edged with residual weeds.
- Author: Rachael Freeman Long
California’s Central Valley is home to a rich diversity and solid abundance of birds. Many are year-round residents, while others are migrants that winter in our valley or travel to destinations further south. Currently more than 400 species of birds call the Central Valley their home; these include raptors, songbirds, ducks, geese, shorebirds, hummingbirds, and others. (Download a checklist of Central Valley birds here.)
All birds depend on habitat for food, shelter and nesting sites. With a decline in habitat in the Central Valley, primarily due to agricultural expansion, urbanization and water diversions, there has been a significant decrease in...
- Author: Rachael Freeman Long
Hedgerows are rows of trees, shrubs, forbs and grasses that surround farm fields. They may be remnants of existing vegetation from cleared lands, a result of natural plant dispersal, or established via direct plantings.
They’ve been in existence for thousands of years with many benefits including serving as wind breaks, helping to reduce soil erosion, and providing habitat for wildlife. All of this helps protect our water and air quality as well as enhances biodiversity.
More recently, studies have shown that hedgerows of California native flowering shrubs planted on field crop edges can enhance beneficial insect activity on farms, possibly leading to biological pest control in adjacent crops. This valuable ecosystem...