We discuss and comment on the role agriculture will play in the containment of the CO2 problem and address protocols for terraforming the planet Earth.
A model farm template is imagined as the central methodology. A broad range of timely science news and other topics of interest are commented on.
Thursday, May 24, 2012
Importance of Predator Friendly Refugia
In the end it is wise to provide natural refugia near the fields.
When we relied on horses, this was well done through the multiple
fence rows. Those are gone and we need to plan differently. Perhaps
we simply need to produce natural strips in which we plant
appropriate trees that are also productive. We are so used to having
build out thousand acre fields, that we did not notice that the
geometry works for and against us.
On top of that many of our crops are the better for having partial
shade. That is always were we find the thickest and richest grass if
we bothered to notice. Thus we are overdue for a careful rethink
regarding field and crop husbandry. We have become so good at
managing the bottom line of things that we can measure that we forgot
the things we cannot measure such as the populations of lady bugs.
In the meantime it is wise to protect and encourage the so called
wastelands and woodlots that are typically about.
predator-friendly land can help farmers reduce costs
by Staff Writers
East Lansing MI
(SPX) May 22, 2012
large tracts of natural habitat surrounding fields increase ladybug
populations and help farmers reduce insecticide use. Photo by G.L.
natural habitat in farming areas that supports ladybugs
could help increase their abundance in crops where they control pests
and help farmers reduce their costs, says a Michigan State University
and other predatory insects eat crop pests, saving farmers an
estimated $4.6 billion a year on insecticides.
Non-crop plants provide these predatory insects with food
and shelter, helping them to survive and thrive in areas where they
In an attempt to
increase benefits from predatory insects, researchers have often
planted strips of flowers along the edges of crop fields.
natural habitats also provide vital food and shelter resources and
may be more important for pest control, said Megan Woltz,
MSU doctoral student and co-author of the study that appears in the
current issue of Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment.
predator-attracting habitats next to crops is only a partial
solution," said Woltz, who co-authored the study with
MSU entomologistsDoug Landis and Rufus Isaacs.
many other pest-eating insects travel long distances throughout the
growing season, sometimes flying or crawling over many miles as they
search for food and shelter. So we also have to consider what
resources are available to these predators at larger scales."
are heralded as a natural, effective killer of soybean aphids, the
most-destructive soybean pest in the northern United States. To
determine the best way to attract ladybugs to soybean fields,
researchers planted buckwheat strips next to soybean fields and
also examined the amount of natural habitat within 1.5 miles of the
our buckwheat strips," Woltz said. "We always found way
more ladybugs in the buckwheat than are usually in field edges.
Unfortunately, all of the ladybugs in the buckwheat did little to
change their populations in the soybean fields."
habitat proved to be more important. The amount of grasslands and
forests within 1.5 miles of the soybean fields determined how many
ladybugs ended up in the field, she added.
large areas typically encompass multiple farms, suggesting that rural
neighbors may need to work together. In other studies, landscapes
with at least 20 percent of non-crop habitat showed
good pest control.
Providing some habitat
on every farm and the properties that surround them would add up to a
lot of habitat at the landscape scale - the scale that matters to