Integrating Beetle Habitat into Pacific Northwest Farming Systems

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2009: $206,002.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2011
Region: Western
State: Oregon
Principal Investigator:
John Lambrinos
Dept. of Horticulture, Oregon State University

Annual Reports


  • Vegetables: beans, broccoli, cucurbits, garlic, peas (culinary), sweet corn


  • Education and Training: extension, farmer to farmer, networking, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: whole farm planning
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, hedges - grass, habitat enhancement, hedgerows
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, organic agriculture

    Proposal abstract:

    This project will provide guidelines for implementing generalist predator habitat (beetle banks) on farms in the Pacific Northwest. Improving habitat for generalist predators such as ground beetles is a promising biological control strategy that offers an alternative to pesticide use. Through a previous SARE-funded project (FW06-324), we have introduced the concept of beetle banking to regional farmers, and several of them have installed some of the first beetle banks in the region. However, these farmers have also identified significant knowledge gaps that currently hinder the widespread implementation of beetle banks in the region. Farmers want better assessment criteria to evaluate when a particular farm needs additional habitat, better guidance on the optimal placement and sizing of banks and evidence that banks actually improve pest suppression. This project will provide answers to these questions through research that will determine how beetle banks and other habitat influence beetle activity and pest suppression patterns on farms and within specific fields. We will conduct this research on our farmer-cooperators' farms, and they will be active participants in the research process. Results from this participatory research will allow us to develop regional recommendations and outreach programs that will foster the effective adoption of beetle banks as habitat enhancement and as a pest management tool. We will design hands-on farm walks and classes that will guide farmers through the process of evaluating existing habitat on their farm, assessing whether additional habitat would improve beetle populations on their farm and identifying places on their farm where habitat improvements would do the most good. We will deliver context specific information and recommendations through extension publications, presentations, web content and a habitat assessment worksheet. An existing social network of farmers developed through our previous SARE-funded project will provide a forum for farmers to get practical feedback and share hands-on information from other practitioners. Our short-term outcome is to help farmers evaluate their farms in terms of beetle habitat and to demonstrate practices they can use to enhance this habitat on their own farms. These tools and demonstrations will catalyze our medium-term outcome of getting more farmers to actively design habitat creation and management plans. We will evaluate our project through continuous feedback with our cooperating farmers and through farmer questionnaires and interviews. This proposal addresses Western SARE Goal 1 by increasing on-farm biodiversity and providing a sustainable alternative to high risk pest management practices; Goal 2 by developing a tool that potentially reduces costly pest outbreaks; Goal 3 by developing a tool that potentially reduces exposure of the farm community to toxic pesticides; Goal 4 by integrating beneficial habitat into traditional crop rotations in diversified farming systems; and Goal 5 by creating a regional social network for farmers to discuss the implications that result from adopting this sustainable practice. This project is a collaboration with regional farmers dedicated to the good stewardship of natural resources and biological diversity on their farms. These farmers also make their living providing high quality food to our region. This project will directly help these innovators develop a sustainable alternative to costly and high risk pest management practices.

    Project objectives from proposal:


    1. Develop a habitat-based model that predicts the occurrence of beetle species at the farm-scale in Pacific Northwest agricultural landscapes.

    2. Determine how the farm-scale arrangement of habitat types influences beetle activity patterns within fields.

    3. Determine how beetle activity within fields influences prey consumption.


    4. Provide specific recommendations based on farmer-generated research questions.

    5. Facilitate regional cooperation among farmers and researchers developing conservation biological control.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.