For organic vegetable farmers, pest management can often be the most challenging and pressing issue. Even pesticides that are certified organic are often broad spectrum and end up destroying beneficial and pollinating insects and contaminating soil and water. The continued use of these chemicals also leads to the development of resistance among the targeted pests, leading to increased use of the chemical or the creation of ever more powerful substances that cause more contamination. Used in conjunction with other methods of an overall integrated pest management system, beetle banks can provide a significant boost in the control of crop pests and weeds by providing habitat for native ground beetles that forage among the crop growing areas for pests and weed seeds. Beetle banks that are planted with native grasses and wildflowers also serve to provide habitat for a wide array of native species of beetles and pollinating insects. They also help to prevent soil erosion by having roots in the ground at all times of the year. The effects on pest and weed control can save labor costs by freeing up the farmer’s time that would otherwise be spent controlling pests and weeds by more intensive methods.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Install two beetle banks with the help of high school students participating in our job training program.
- Use the beetle banks throughout the season as a learning tool for students. The beetle banks will be a continuous learning tool throughout the duration of the grant and beyond, as students help to maintain them and participate in workshops and demonstrations.
- Provide workshops for community gardeners and local farmers on the benefits of beetle banks as a tool of organic pest management, using the beetle banks as a demonstration and education site.