Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Help is on the way!

A very belated post and not really in keeping with the time of year but I have just discovered these photographs on my phone and thought I would share them after a conversation with Caroline Drummond from LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) about the importance of providing habitat for beneficial insects.  In an ideal world it would be good to farm without insecticides; allowing mother nature to control the pests that predate our crops and impact on the quality of the food they produce or the yield.  Is there a way to enable larger numbers of these biological helpers to control the pests for us? Habitats such as grass margins, beetle banks and pollen and nectar strips have all shown to increase the numbers of beneficial insects that can help control the pests.
Work undertaken at the   Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust at Loddington show how a simple step, like creating a Beetle Bank in fields over 20 Ha (50 acres) have have a huge benefit to providing habitat of overwintering beneficial insects like spiders.  These guys are then able to migrate across the field and help protect the crop from invading pests like the black bean aphid or others.  But what about using biological help in a different form?  Could we spray fungi and bacteria onto our fields to help deter pests, disease and potentially weeds?  All things to be considered in the future which are currently being used in green houses and controlled environments but could they be used in the wider landscape?