Single species and communities of native plants were evaluated in research plots and on-farm trials to determine their effectiveness in enhancing biological control of key pests. Participants included the owner/operator of a native plant nursery, field crop producers, university research & Extension personnel, USDA NRCS Plant Materials Centers, and state/local Conservation Districts. We identified 23 native plant species that attracted natural enemies and pollinators and assisted two farmers with incorporating these native perennial plants into their farming systems. During the project duration, we participated in 34 workshops and talks on how to enhance biocontrol with native plants, with a total audience of greater than 2500 agricultural professionals, farmers, scientists, and conservation practitioners. In 2005, our website had 1478 hits/month, a rate that more than doubled in 2006 to 3608 hits/month (43,300 total in 2006). In 2007, the impact of the website continued to increase, with 3912 hits/month in the 3rd quarter and 4395 in the fourth quarter. These visits represented visitors from 46 states, 8 Canadian provinces, and over 63 countries in 2007. In 2008, these numbers were even greater, with 6726 hits/month (80,714 total).
In 2008, we also posted our information to the eXtension branch, eOrganic, in an article titled “Attracting Beneficial Insects with Native Flowering Plants” so that the website and the downloadable publications and teaching tools are more accessible to extension professionals and organic growers across the U.S (http://eorganic.info/node/2866).
Via our extension bulletin distribution and our website, we will continue to educate agricultural professionals, farmers, scientists, and conservation practitioners. In the intermediate-term, we are sharing our vision of reintroducing native flowering perennials in the landscape. This has potential in the long-term to increase biological control and reduce pesticide use in the north central region, improve the economic viability of crop and native plant producers, and enhance the quality of life in rural communities.
Many beneficial insects require daily access to plant nectar, pollen, or shelter to prolong their life and enhance reproduction and in turn help control insect and weed pests in adjacent farmlands. The use of native plants to enhance biological control can increase farm sustainability and reduce pesticide use while improving soil, water and biodiversity conservation. For this project we studied the effects of native plants on enhancing biological pest control while linking farmers, conservation educators and native plant producers with common interests in ecologically-based pest management.
The projects objectives were to:
1) Design and test native plant species and communities to enhance insect and weed biological control.
2) Develop research-based sources of information on native plant materials and their use in pest management.
3) Link native plant and crop producers with conservation educators through educational events designed to enhance use of native plants in agricultural systems.
Objective 1. Design and test native plant species and communities to enhance insect and weed biological control.
Objective 2. Develop research-based sources of information on native plant materials and their use in pest management.
Objective 3. Link native plant and crop producers with conservation educators through educational events designed to enhance use of native plants in agricultural systems.
Obj. 1. Native plants were established at the MSU Entomology Research Farm, at Wildtype Native Plant Nursery, and on two farms in southern Michigan. Design and testing of native plant habitats for biological control included single-species and plant community evaluations to support the on-farm trials. Forty-three species of native perennial forbs (herbaceous broadleaf plants) and shrubs were established in September 2003 and were tested to determine their attractiveness and suitability to predator and parasitoid communities. Plots were 10 ft2 rectangular blocks with appropriate plant spacing to produce a full canopy for each species and separated by 12’ buffer of mown orchardgrass between plots. These plots provided a matrix in which the attractiveness of individual species could be evaluated in relationship to each other. Each species was replicated five times in a completely randomized design covering four acres. Single-species evaluations were conducted on the MSU site in 2005 and 2006 growing seasons. A fencerow planting was established at Wildtype Native Plant Nursery to compare the success of seeding and planting plug material, and to envision how native plantings function at scales greater than our 10 ft2 experimental blocks of individual plant species. On farm trials were initiated in 2004 and continued in 2005 – 2007 on the Richard Stuckey and Gene Vogel farms, both mid-Michigan organic growers, on a total of 2.5 acres.
Obj. 2. In January 2007, a 6-page Michigan Extension bulletin, entitled Attracting Beneficial Insects with Native Flowering Plants (No. E-2973) was printed. The initial print run of 3000 sold out and 850 copies of the second printing have sold in the past 10 months. It was distributed in electronic format (PDF) to land managers across Michigan. This method can reach most of Michigan’s 52,000 farms and is intended to stimulate farmer awareness and interest in the project. This brochure also directs readership to our website where a full set of information is available.
Our website, housed and maintained within the MSU Integrated Pest Management (MSU IPM) Program, is a central hub for the dissemination of project information. Our website includes fact sheets on beneficial insect attraction to individual plant species, as well as the habitats these species tolerate and their growth habit, bloom period, and native range. In addition, it includes information on natural enemy and pollinator insects, as well as native perennial plant establishment. The website is a portal of information on plant material sources, and links to partner agencies, including native plant producers of Michigan.
Obj. 3. Person to person interaction in on-farm learning environments is a proven technique for increasing dissemination of information. Promoting farmer-to-farmer interactions, including native plant producers meeting with crop producers, is a key goal of our project. We held three regionally-advertised annual field days (2004-06) as a part of this project attracting more than 25 participants.
In 2007, we evaluated fall 2004 and spring 2005 and 2006 plantings on both farmer collaborators’ land and compared them to determine the number of species germinated and rate of establishment from seed. We found from 4 to 15 native plants/ m2 for plantings performed in different years. Seeding success varied more by farm than by year of seeding, with weed pressure playing a major role in the success of planting and soil type affecting which plant species flourished at each farm. In September 2007 we found seedlings or plants of 16 of 28 seeded species at the Stuckey farm and 19 of 28 at the Vogel farm.
In 2005, we created a website, http://nativeplants.msu.edu/, that contains the background and findings of the research funded by this project. In 2006, we added information on plant establishment to the website so that those who wanted to create their own native plantings knew how to begin. In 2007, we made a variety of resources available in PDF and PowerPoint format on the website. These include three slide sets on natural enemies, pollinators, and native plants, respectively. These, the Native Plants and Beneficial Insects bulletin (E-2973), and a talk from the Michigan Small Farms Conference, are downloadable for extension educators and others to use in presentations. In 2008, there were nearly twice as many downloads/month (1495) as in 2007 (844). The large number and increasing of downloads indicate that this is an effective way to increase information dissemination in a meaningful way.
In January 2007, 3000 copies of a 6-page Michigan Extension bulletin, entitled Attracting Beneficial Insects with Native Flowering Plants (No. E-2973) was printed. The bulletin has been so successful that all 3000 copies in the first printing have already sold. It has now been updated and second printing completed in 2008. In total, the research funded by this grant has been distributed in five peer-reviewed journal articles, a book chapter, and three extension publications. We have given 13 presentations at national and international scientific meetings, 11 extension talks, 9 workshops and field days, all based on this research.
No direct analysis was performed.
Our plant recommendations have been incorporated into the MI SAFE (State Acres for Wildlife) program which has been implemented on 12 farms totaling 113 acres. (SAFE Acres by State, County, and Project
as of 11/3/2008)
Educational & Outreach Activities
Isaacs, R., J. Tuell, A. Fiedler, M. Gardiner, and D. Landis. 2009. Maximizing Arthropod-mediated Ecosystem Services in Agricultural Landscapes: the Role of Native Plants. Frontiers in Ecology & the Environment accepted.
Tuell, J. K., A. K. Fiedler, D.A. Landis, and R. Isaacs. 2008. Visitation by Wild and Managed Bees (Hymenoptera: Apoidea) to Eastern U.S. Native Plants for Use in Agricultural Conservation Programs, Environmental Entomology 37 (3): 707-718.
Fiedler, A.K., D.A. Landis, and S. Wratten. 2008. Maximizing Ecosystem Services from Conservation Biological Control: The Role of Habitat Management, Biological Control 45 (2): 254–271.
Fiedler, A. K., and D. A. Landis. 2007. Attractiveness of Michigan Native Plants to Arthropod Natural Enemies and Herbivores. Environmental Entomology 36 (4): 751-765.
Fiedler, A. K., and D. A. Landis. 2007. Plant characteristics associated with natural enemy abundance at Michigan native plants. Environmental Entomology 36 (4): 878-886.
Gardiner, M.M., A.K. Fiedler, A.C. Costamagna and D.A. Landis. 2009. Integrating Conservation biological control into IPM systems in Integrated pest Management: Concepts, Tactics, Strategies & Case Studies, Cambridge University Press in press.
Presentations in Congresses and Meetings
Landis, D.A., and A.K. Fiedler. 2008. Enhancing Beneficial Insects Using Native Plants. SARE’s 20th Anniversary New American Farm Conference. “Farmscaping to Manage Insects” workshop. Kansas City, MO. Mar. 27, 2008 (invited talk).
Fiedler, A.K., D.A. Landis, N. Saidov. 2008. Enhancing beneficial insects using native plants. Ent. Soc. of Am. Annual Meeting, Reno, NV (invited talk).
Fiedler, A.K. and D.A. Landis. 2007. Increasing the pest control services provided by flowering plants in agroecosystems. Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting, San Jose, CA. (poster)
Isaacs, R., Tuell, J.K., Walton, N.J., Fiedler, A.K., and Landis, D. 2007. Midwest prairie plants for attraction of bees and their integration into fruit farms to provide agro-ecological services. 9th International Pollination Symposium on Plant-Pollinator Relationships – Diversity in Action. Ames, IA. (invited talk)
Landis, D.A., A.K. Fiedler and N. Saidov. 2007. Enhancing Beneficial Insect with Flowering Plants. Integrated Pest Management Stakeholders Forum for Central Asia Region, Duschanbe, Tajkistan. (invited talk)
Fiedler, A.K. and D.A. Landis. 2006. Evaluation of Michigan Native Plants and Plant Characteristics for use in Habitat Management. Ent. Soc. of Am. Annual Meeting, Indianapolis, IN. (student competition talk)
Landis, D.A. and A.K. Fiedler. 2006. Using Michigan Native Plants to Enhance Biological Control of Insects. Michigan Wildflower Association Annual Meeting. Lansing, MI. (invited talk)
Fiedler, A.K. and D.A. Landis. 2005. Floral Characteristics Influence Natural Enemy Visitation to Native Plants. Ent. Soc. of Am. Annual Meeting, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. (student competition talk)
Landis, D.A. and A.K. Fiedler. 2005. Use of Native Plants to Conserve Natural Enemies. International Symposium, Biological Control of Arthropods. Davos, Switzerland. (invited talk)
Fiedler, A.K. and D.A. Landis. 2005. Identifying and promoting native plant species for use in conservation biological control via habitat management. N. Central Branch Ent. Soc. of Am., West Lafayette, IN. (invited talk)
Fiedler, A.K. and D.A. Landis. 2004. A comparison of native Michigan and nonnative plants to provide resources to natural enemies. Ent. Soc. of Am. Annual Meeting, Salt Lake City, UT. (poster)
Fiedler, A.K. and D.A. Landis. 2004. Use of native Michigan plants to provide resources to natural enemies. International Congress of Entomology, Brisbane, Australia. (poster)
Landis, D.A. and A. K. Fiedler. 2004. Utilizing native biodiversity to enhance biological control. International Congress of Entomology, Brisbane, Australia. (invited talk)
Fiedler, A.K. Enhancing Beneficial Insects with Native Plants. The Stewardship Network Webcast Series. Ann Arbor, MI. Nov. 2007.
Fiedler, A.K. and D.A. Landis. Enhancing Beneficial Insects with Native Plants. Wildflower Association of Michigan Annual Meeting. East Lansing, MI. March 2007.
Fiedler, A.K. and M.M. Gardiner. Enhancing Beneficial Insects with Native Plants. Ag Action Days. Kalamazoo, MI. Jan. 2007.
Fiedler, A.K. and D.A. Landis. Using Native Plants to Conserve Natural Enemies in the Agricultural Landscape. Michigan Small Farms Conference. Grayling, MI. Jan. 2006.
Fiedler, A.K. and D.A. Landis. Using Native Plants to Conserve Natural Enemies. Wild Ones Red Cedar Chapter. East Lansing, MI. Jan. 2006.
Fiedler, A.K. and D.A. Landis. Using Native Plants to Conserve Natural Enemies. Macomb County Extension. Clinton Township, MI. Jan. 2006.
Fiedler, A.K. and D.A. Landis. Conservation Biological Control & Native Plants. Organic Ext. Meeting. Marlette, MI. Feb. 2005.
Fiedler, A.K. Conservation Biological Control & Native Plants. Oakland Bee Club. Bloomfield Hills, MI. Jan. 2005.
Fiedler, A.K. Conservation Biological Control and Agriculture. Ag. Update, Lansing, MI. Dec. 2004.
Fiedler, A.K. Native plants & natural enemies. Rainbow Lk. Garden Club. Perrington, MI. Oct. 2004.
Fiedler, A.K. Native plants & natural enemies. Allen Neighborhood Center, Lansing, MI. Sept. 2004.
Workshops and Field Days:
Workshop on attracting beneficial insects with native plants (65 participants). Master Gardener Volunteer Spring Conference, East Lansing, MI. March 2008.
Natural enemy identification and biology (70 participants). Biological Control Workshop, Macomb County, MI. Feb. 2007.
Field day based on native plant research (115 participants). E. Lansing, MI. Aug 2006.
Using native plants to enhance biological control in the field (15 international scientists). International Agro-ecology and IPM course, East Lansing, MI. June 2006.
Native plants as resource providers for beneficial insects (50 participants). Blueberry Pollination Field Day, Allegan County, MI. May 2006.
Natural enemy identification and biology (70 participants). Biological Control Workshop, Macomb County, MI. Jan. 2006.
Field day based on native plant research (120 participants). E. Lansing, MI. Aug 2005.
Using native plants to enhance biological control in the field (15 international scientists). International Agro-ecology and IPM course, East Lansing, MI. June 2005.
Using native plants to enhance biological control in the field (15 international scientists). International Agroecology & IPM course, East Lansing, MI. June 2004.
Enhancing Beneficial Insects with Native plants. Website. July 2005. (www.nativeplants.msu.edu)
Fiedler A., Tuell, J. Isaacs, R., Landis, D. Attracting beneficial insects with native flowering plants. Jan. 2007. MSU Extension Bulletin No. E-2973.
Brewer, M., Fiedler, A., Grafius, E., Harrigan, T., Isaacs, R., Kaiser, M., Landis, D., Langley, S., Martin, T., Mutch, D., Ngouajio, M., Snapp, S., Tuell, J. IPM benefits of managing field borders, cover crops and other noncrop vegetation in Ecologically Based Farming Systems. April 2007. MSU Extension Bulletin No. E-2983.
Areas needing additional study
In 2007, we wrote a National Research Institute (NRI) grant to perform work looking at the interaction of landscape context and flowering strips on natural enemies and pollinators; an extension of the SARE-funded work. The NRI grant was funded and fieldwork began in 2008. The NRI grant uses data we collected for this project, and is a way to improve habitat management broadly by addressing why habitat management has yielded mixed results for both natural enemy and pollinator communities in past research. Additional research on how wide and long native plant strips need to be and which species mixes should contain would further promote this research area.