- Agronomic: corn, oats, soybeans, spelt, wheat, grass (misc. perennial), hay
- Vegetables: beans
- Additional Plants: native plants
- Animal Production: feed/forage
- Crop Production: windbreaks
- Education and Training: demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, focus group, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research
- Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, habitat enhancement, hedgerows, riparian buffers, riverbank protection, soil stabilization, wildlife, hedges - woody
- Pest Management: biological control, competition, disease vectors, integrated pest management, trap crops, weed ecology
- Production Systems: agroecosystems, permaculture
- Sustainable Communities: partnerships, public participation, social psychological indicators
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. This project studies the impacts of native plants on enhancing biological pest control and links farmers, conservation educators and native plant producers with common interests in ecologically-based pest management. The projects objectives are 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. Single species and communities of native plants will be evaluated in research plots and on-farm trials to determine their effectiveness in enhancing biological control of key pests. Participants include 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. Our project will identify at least five native plant species that significantly enhance insect or weed biological control, directly assist a minimum of ten farmers to incorporate native plants into their farming systems and educate more than 1000 agricultural professionals and farmers per year on how to enhance biocontrol with native plants. In the intermediate-term, increased biological control will reduce pesticide use in the NC region, improve the economic viability of crop and native plant producers, and enhance the quality of life in rural communities.
Project objectives from proposal:
This project links three groups; agricultural producers, conservation educators (Extension, USDA NRCS, Conservation Districts) and native plant producers. Short-term project outcomes include: a) Identifying at least five native plant species that significantly enhance insect or weed biological control, b) assisting a minimum of ten farmers to incorporate native plants into their farming systems, and c) educating more than 1000 MSU Extension agents, Natural Resource Conservation Service personnel, Conservation District staff and farmers per year on enhancing biocontrol with native plants. In the intermediate-term, d) increased biological control will reduce pesticide use in the NC region, e) improve the economic viability of crop and native plant producers, and f) enhance quality of life in rural communities.